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It was a great season for the Queens District 26 Middle School Basketball League, which consists of six middle schools in the area: MS 67, 72, 74, 158, 216 and 266. The competition was fun and exciting throughout the year.
Coming into the season, the MS 74 Lady Hawks basketball team was on a mission. Since the school started the girls’ basketball program in 1998, MS 74 has won three championships every four years, in 2001, 2005 and 2009. This meant that in 2013, the team would have to win to keep the championship trend going.
“I told our team at our first practice of the season to look up at the previous years’ championship banners hanging in the gym,” said head Coach Richard Sussman. “The empty space on the wall next to the 2009 banner has been reserved for your banner. Let’s go for it.”
From that moment on, the girls were excited and motivated, which would carry them throughout the season to the championship game.
On April 11, the championship game was played between MS 74 (1) vs. MS 172 (2) in one of the most exciting, hard-fought and memorable finals in District 26 girls’ basketball history.
The game was intense from the beginning. Down by 13 points with four minutes left in the third quarter, the Lady Hawks mounted a remarkable comeback behind the scoring of co-captains Gabriella DeVito and Victoria Sacramone and a stifling man-to-man, full-court press.
“I looked at the girls and said, ‘Girls, we have 12 minutes left in the season,’” Sussman said. “‘Play hard and lay it all out on the line and good things will happen.’”
By the end of the third quarter, the 13-point deficit was now down to just two points. The Lady Hawks came together as a team and it really showed. The fourth quarter was a tense back-and-forth battle with MS 74 trailing by one point with six seconds left in the game and having possession at half court.
“I told the girls be confident, ready and vouched the way we have been playing the whole season,” the coach said.
Sixth-grader Jade Acot make a perfect inbounds pass to eighth-grader Victoria Sacramone, who drove to the basket and made a perfect pass to seventh-grader Eunji Shin underneath the basket who laid in it as the buzzer sounded and MS 74 won the championship in dramatic fusion 51-50.
“It was a storybook ending to a fantastic season. The girls never gave up and gave a 100 percent effort right to the end,” Sussman said. “That is the mark of a true champion.”
The Lady Hawks finished their season with an impressive 11-1 record on their way to their fourth championship title.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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