Brittany Lai had two goals Sunday -- to have fun and to win. Grabbing the MVP trophy was just icing on the cake.
Lai was the ultimate utility player in the ninth annual Metro Classic as she spread the offense for the Burbs, leading them to a 91-65 victory over the Boros at Archbishop Molloy high school.
The Irvington High School star had 10 points and six assists in Burbs coach John Reilly’s uptempo offense. With only four minutes at a time of game action, Lai, a Marist commit, still had chances to make an impact.
“It’s an all-star game so you really want to split the minutes and be fair,” Reilly said. “At the end of the game, if it’s close, then you want to go with the players who are hot and she [Lai] was hot all day.”
The Burbs jumped on their opponents early using an active defense to cause turnovers that often led to fast break opportunities. They ended the first quarter with a scoring flourish, netting eight points in a row for an 18-10 lead.
Second chance points were nonexistent for the Boros as the Burbs dominated the boards. Lai’s Metro Classic teammate and fellow Irvington star Lexi Martins, pulled down boards and had two blocks to go with her eight points.
Like her teammate, the Lehigh commit was well aware of the substitution pattern and used it to her advantage on the floor.
“We have a lot of girls on this team that are very good basketball players,” Martins said. “Most of the time we’re only getting about four minutes. If you’re not out there giving it your all, you’re going to be sitting on the bench.”
The second quarter was more of the same as the Burbs outscored the Boros by six to take a 43-27 lead into the half.
The Boros finally started to show signs of life in the fourth quarter when an Amani Tatum (Archbishop Molloy) layup allowed the city team to get with seven points. A jumper by St. Francis Prep's Veronica Ganzi with eight minutes to go brought the score to within five points, but the Boros would get no closer.
“Coach really wanted us to run up and down the floor and score baskets in transition,” Martins said. “His offensive concept was three-pointers, getting to the foul line, and making free throws.”
“Our pace was hurting them but they got in the bonus and started shooting foul shots and we were letting them walk up and down the court and set up their defense,” Reilly said. “The fouls stagnated us for a while. As soon as we stopped fouling, we were up and running again.”
Last season’s MVP Rebecca Musgrove was pivotal in keeping the Boros at bay in the fourth quarter. She answered the call for her team with a layup, a 3-pointer, and a steal on consecutive plays. The St. Anthony’s guard finished with 16 points and four steals.
Musgrove’s St. Anthony’s teammate Chastity Taylor led the Burbs in scoring with 19 points and four rebounds.
For the Boros, Tatum, an Archbishop Molloy senior point guard led all scorers with 21 points, while highly recruited Sierra Calhoun had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Cardinal Spellman forward Maria Backman added 10 points and 12 rebounds.
With the win, the Burbs increase their all-time advantage over the Boros to 6-3. While the bragging rights were important, it seemed just as important to the players that they have a good time.
“These are the girls that we play AAU against and now we’re playing on the same team together,” Lai said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
“It’s always an awesome way to start out the season,” added Martins. “We have a great group of girls. You get competitive with these girls throughout the season and you come here to prove things. It shows how hard we worked.”