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BY DANIEL JEAN-LUBIN | At some point, you would think this streak would have to end. At some point, Murry Bergtraum may catch a hot team and see their Public Schools Athletic League championship dominance come to an end. We’ll have to find out next season, however.
After a torrid comeback by top-seeded South Shore came up just short, No. 2 Murry Bergtraum held on to win, 48-43, in the P.S.A.L. girls championship game March 16 at Madison Square Garden.
The Murry Bergtraum Lady Blazers (25-2) entered the game hungry for revenge after suffering a 46-54 loss at home to South Shore on Dec. 7. During that game, the Lady Blazers’ leading scorer, Jasmine Nwajei’s game-high 23 points could not push the Blazers past the Lady Vikings.
Last Saturday, the Lady Blazers of Lower Manhattan found themselves in an unusual position, trailing early on in the game, as the South Shore Lady Vikings (22-5) began the first quarter shooting very well. Bergtraum found their offensive spark from the team’s second-leading scorer, Ashanae McLaughlin, who notched the Blazers’ first few points. McLaughlin finished the game with 15 points and four assists.
Despite the early difficulties, the Lady Blazers found their defensive legs and also found themselves carrying an 11-point lead, making the score 17-6 well into the second quarter. Bergtraum kept the offensive pressure cranked all the way through the second quarter and ended the half up by double digits.
But South Shore stormed back onto the court in the third quarter, shooting very well from all angles and keeping their title hopes alive. With the game winding down in the fourth quarter, the Lady Vikings pulled within 2 points thanks to Brianna Fraser’s layup with 1:38 left on the clock.
Fraser’s powerful move provided momentum, possibly enough to propel them to steal a win. But a clutch rebound by Bergtraum’s Kimberley Viafara paved the way to a game-winning free throw from her teammate Nwajei. With Nwajei’s shot the resulting score was 48-43 and Murry Bergtraum had won their 15th straight P.S.A.L. championship.
The Lady Blazers streak did not extend to the state. The team lost to Bishop Ford High School 57-40 in the New York State Federation Class AA semifinals March 22, ending what otherwise was a very successful season with another city title.