Jalen Powell had attempted three three-pointers, and missed all of them. North Babylon's girls basketball team, which made it as far as the county semifinals last year, had played three games before yesterday, and won only one.
But games are long and seasons are longer, and with two seconds left in their bout against host Baldwin last night, Powell proved that this suits the Bulldogs just fine. Powell nailed a high-arcing trey from the left baseline off an inbounds pass from Brittany Hicks to win the game for North Babylon, 35-34, as part of the 10th annual Holiday Basketball Tournament. It was her first field goal of the game, made possible by stout defensive work that kept the Bruins off the board for the entire fourth quarter.
"Just shoot," she said. "And whatever happens, happens . . . [Baldwin's] Alex [Hampton] was too focused on Makeda [Nicholson]. I was too open."
Perhaps for good reason. Nicholson was all over the floor, amassing 10 points, most notably, giving North Babylon (2-2) the lead twice -- once with a layup with 1:04 left in the first half to make it 18-17 and again with a lunging finger roll to make it 19-18 in the opening seconds of the third quarter.
Baldwin (3-1) charged back, going on a 13-2 third-quarter run, courtesy of Amber Harrison, who had six of her nine points and one of her three steals during the stretch. Brianna Jones' short jumper brought the Bulldogs to within 31-27, but Hampton provided the loud rejoinder -- a buzzer-beating three about a foot outside the line to give the Bruins a 34-27 lead going into the fourth. She finished with a team-high 12 points.
Jones, though, wasn't done. In the fourth, she added another jumper just inside the three-point line and a silky smooth three from the right wing to draw North Babylon to within two points. Often double-teamed and under heavy pressure from Mariah Butler, she had trouble getting clean looks in the final three minutes of play, setting up the dramatic end.
"I got a little frustrated," Jones said. Still, when it was time for that final play, she thought the ball was coming to her. Then, she saw Powell, nearly alone to her far left.
"Just give her the ball," she recalled thinking. And how did it feel when the shot went in, sweet and unmolested? "Whoo. Relief. It felt like everything was perfect."
- Live Games