They shouldn’t even have been there.
The Francis Lewis High School girls basketball team had no business in the Public School Athletic League “AA” division championship game on Saturday. After all, they had to beat Murry Bergtraum, winners of the last 15 straight city titles, to get there.
Shockingly, star guard Sierra Green and the Patriots pulled off the upset last week and found themselves on the Barclays Center court in Brooklyn on Saturday, playing for a city championship.
The Fresh Meadows team wasn’t going to let the opportunity go to waste.
Led by Green’s dominant 21-point effort, Francis Lewis once again surprised the New York City basketball world, defeating top-ranked South Shore High School of Brooklyn 65-58 to win their first PSAL championship in school history.
“It’s a pretty great feeling to know we made it this far because it was our goal at the beginning of the season,” Green said. “And we succeeded.”
The Patriots, who went 18-2 in the regular season, looked like a team on a mission, as they came out firing in the first half, all while holding South Shore in check defensively.
Francis Lewis led 27-18 at halftime on the strength of Green’s 14 points, and the tight Patriot defense forced South Shore to shoot a putrid 19 percent through the first two quarters.
The Lady Vikings did a much better job on Green in the second half, as they held the sophomore to seven points and none in the fourth quarter, but that’s when junior Chi La Bady went to work.
The guard added 19 points and nine rebounds for Francis Lewis, giving the Patriots a second dominant offensive player, an element South Shore simply couldn’t defend effectively.
“In the second half, I felt we needed to come out even stronger than we did in the first half,” La Bady said. “We couldn’t relax just because we had the lead that we did. We had to keep coming at them.”
The Patriots might have slacked for a few moments in the fourth quarter, as South Shore cut Francis Lewis’ lead to 51-47 with four minutes remaining. Patriots coach Stephen Tsai called a timeout to calm his girls down.
“I said just to be smart on offense,” Tsai said, when asked what he told the girls during the timeout. “Sometimes we all want to be a hero, but winning makes you a hero.”
Francis Lewis was able to put some distance between them and South Shore in the ensuing few minutes, and by the time the final buzzer sounded, the Patriots had made school history.
In addition to Francis Lewis taking the girls crown, Benjamin Cardozo High School in Bayside won the PSAL boys city championship on the same court two hours later.
Brooklyn may be known as the hotbed for New York City high school hoops, but on Saturday, Queens invaded Brooklyn with one goal in mind: to win.
And when class came back into session on Monday, the two Queens schools had to make space in their trophy cases for some brand new hardware.