Jessica Glaz clutched her right hand after landing hard on the floor during a third round PSAL Class B playoff game against Jamaica.
The Scholars Academy sophomore initially thought she had just jammed her finger, but the final diagnosis turned out to be a broken knuckle located near her pinky finger. Glaz tried to ignore the pain in playoff wins against Academy of American Studies and Gompers.
“I just don’t think about it when I’m playing, but after the shot, there’s a little pain going through it,” Glaz said.
Glaz felt no pain Sunday afternoon, earning MVP honors after scoring a game-high 21 points to lead second-seeded Scholars Academy to a 51-43 win against top-seeded Bedford Academy and a second consecutive PSAL Class B crown at City College.
Taylor Gallagher, the only returning starter from last year, added 14 points and freshman forward Emma Michaels had nine points for Scholars Academy (26-3), which will play Long Island Lutheran in the New York State Federation Class B semifinals Friday morning in Albany.
“It’s amazing, it feels good, second year in a row with new girls,” Glaz added. “It’s so sweet. It’s amazing.”
This year was a remarkable one for the Seawolves, which led wire-to-wire against the Lady Panthers in a rematch of last year’s title game. It was certainly a pleasing day for their fans, which included former assistant coach Clare Droesch, who is currently battling Stage Four breast cancer.
Scholars Academy won its first title last season with a roster filled with veteran stars. That championship squad had played with each other when Scholars first started as a middle school and stayed together after enrolling at the high school located inside the same Rockaway Park building.
This year’s squad was young, but quickly gained chemistry on the floor with one another, according to Glaz. Scholars Academy coach Janet Kleiner relied heavily on Glaz and the junior point guard Gallagher to provide point production and leadership this season.
“Jessie and Taylor are the backbone, Taylor is a three-year starter, Kleiner said. “I coached 33 years, thousands of kids in different sports and by far she is the most competitive female student athlete I’ve ever coached.”
Scholars raced out to a big lead to start the game against cold-shooting Bedford Academy. The Seawolves took a 32-11 lead into halftime, and maintained a double-digit lead for most of the third quarter.
An inconsistent Bedford team displayed one burst of energy to begin the fourth quarter. Alexis Foster picked up a loose ball and converted the layup in a 10-2 run that cut the Bedford deficit to 42-31 with 4:10 remaining.
After a timeout, Scholars quickly responded with a burst of its own. Kayla Nolan and Gallagher each converted on drives to the basket to push the lead back to 15 points. The Lady Panthers tried to claw back, but Glaz hit both of her free throws with 24.9 seconds left to clinch the victory.
Bedford Academy (20-3) was led by Eleasha Wiggins, who had 11 points, while Foster and Brianna Perlmutter each adding 10 points.
The Seawolves lost to Irvington in the Federation semifinals and will attempt to take one step further this year.
“We know our role, we knew what to do. We kept talking and came together as a group and played our best,” Glaz said. “We all have skill, and if you can put that together you can win a championship. That’s what we did.”