A block or a charge? It's one of the toughest calls in basketball for an official to make. That's why you just hope that it doesn't end up being the difference in a game. But in Thursday night's first semi-final in D-III girls, it may have been the case.
Bow was clinging to a 25-23 coming up on 2 minutes left in the 4th quarter after a big steal and layup by Bishop Brady sophomore guard Sarah Thomas. Then Bow senior guard (and Syracuse field hockey recruit) Lindsey Nerbonne drove from the left wing towards the basket. As she began her drive though, a Brady player stepped in front of her and was there waiting for her so she could take the charge. Nerbonne slmammed into the defender as she put the shot up. The shot was good, but it appeared to be a charge on Nerbonne. Instead the call was a block on Brady, the basket was good and Nerbonne would go to the line for a 3-point play. Bow went up 28-23 and went on to win it 36-31.
"It was a charge" said Bishop Brady head coach Aaron Brochu, who got the Giants to the Final Four in his first year at the helm. "We saw that play coming. We talked about stepping over when they get it to the wing. We knew Nerbonne was getting tired too. We got the play we wanted, but it went the other way."
That call goes Brady's way, they get the ball down by 2 with a chance to tie it up or re-take the lead with a 3. Instead it's an and-1 for Nerbonne and Bow goes up by 5.
"I'm not sure if it was a charge or not" said Nerbonne. "As I was going up for it I didn't see anyone step in front of me. Then I blacked out as I went up."
Even after that play, Brady still had a chance to come back and win it. Junior forward Riselly Deoleo made a steal near half court and finished the layup on the other end to cut the Bow lead to 28-25 with 1:45 left in the game. No, that score is not a typo, it was a VERY low scoring game.
Deoleo then fouled out, and right out of a timeout Bow senior forward Suzanne Barry made a strong move with the ball inside for 2. Then Bow got a steal, and junior guard Ashlie Tucker converted a layup on the other end. 2 quick buckets for the Falcons, and just like that they were up 32-25 wit just 52 seconds left. It appeared as though this game was in the books.
Not so fast, Brady wasn't ready to give up just yet. Thomas hit a pair of free throws, Barry fouled out and then Bow was called for a 5 second violation whiling trying to inbound the ball. Brady missed a jumper from the outside, but then Bow was called for a loose ball foul whiling going for the rebound to give possession right back to the Giants. Taylor Ong (team high 12 points) drove inside for 2 points, and now Brady was only down 32-31 with 25.2 seconds remaining.
Falcons junior guard Taylor Marston (who transferred to Bow from Bishop Brady) was fouled and sent to the line where she made 1 of 2 FT's. Brady is still alive though, now down 33-31. They got the ball back with 20 seconds left. However they were called for a travel (one of the Giant's 23 turnovers on the night) and then on the other end Nerbonne nailed both foul shots. That gave Bow a 35-31 lead and made it a 2 possession game. With that little time left it was too much of a deficit for Brady to come back from. They put up a great fight, but Bow is headed to the title game.
It is a sweet victory for the Falcons. Not only do they beat their rival Bishop Brady, but they are finally able to get over the hump and make it to the championship game after losing in the semi-finals each of the past 2 years.
"It definitely feels so much better coming back into this locker room after a win" said Nerbonne, who finished with a ganme-high 13 points, to go with 5 assists. "We're all pumped up. veryone stepped up grouped together and stayed on the same page on defense."
Barry had 12 rebounds on the game, including 7 of them on the offensive end. Dina Tischofer was also effective on the boards with 6.
For Brady, it is a disappointing loss but they have to feel good about how far they have come in such a short period of time. This is a program that has really struggled in recent years and didn't even make the tournament last season. But this year they 18-3 and they did it with only 2 seniors. Tori LeBlanc also played well for Brady.
"We just weren't making shots" lamented Coach Brochu. "Sarah Thomas is our ebst shooter and she was 1/10. But Tori is our only senior starter, we have some wonderful youth coming up, and I know these girls will play a lot of basketball over the summer and come abck stronger next year."
It was only 20-17 Brady after 3 quarters, as both squads reallty struggled to score points during the first 3 quarters. Nerbonne picked up a technical foul in the 2nd quarter when she was being pressed hard defensively and was called for a 5 second closely guarded violation. After the call she slammed the ball down in frustration.
"Lindsey tried to do a little too much" said Bow head coach Bill Vermette. "At halftime we had to tell her that she had teammates. In the 2nd half she did a better job handlig the ball. She can do so many things with the basketball, we definitely want it in her hands.