By Jim Dolan
Bishop Kearney 38
In their first-ever championship meeting on the hardwood, top-seeded Bishop Kearney hosted second-seeded Fontbonne at Christ the King High School in Middle Village, Queens, on March 3 in this season’s GCHSAA Division II finals. Both schools finished with an identical regular season record of 10-2 and split their home meetings during the season to set the stage for this deciding game.
In an evenly matched game during which Kearney took a 19-16 halftime lead, the drama boiled down to the last 10 seconds of the fourth quarter, with Kearney up by a score of 38-36. After capturing an offensive rebound, Fontbonne’s Kristen Sullivan kicked the ball out to Cindy Henderson at the top of the key with 7.8 seconds left. Returning to the game after a technical foul, Henderson drove past her defender and penetrated the paint to score the tying basket on a high, arching layup, and was fouled in the process.
With the go-ahead shot in her hands, Henderson missed the free throw. Fortunately, teammate Michelle Moran came down with Henderson’s rebound and was also fouled, giving Fontbonne a second chance to take the lead. Fighting off the pressure, Moran hit her first foul shot to give Fontbonne the one-point lead, but missed her next insurance shot.
With just three seconds left, Moran rose to the occasion again, this time intercepting Kearney’s inbound pass at midcourt as time ran out.
Fontbonne head coach Stephen Oliver called this “a game of redemption,” referencing his decision to put Cindy Henderson (13 points) back into the game after getting a technical foul. At the two-minute mark, in the midst of the scrum for a loose ball, the scrappy Henderson overreacted with a kick to her opponent after her ankle was crushed onto the gym floor.
After sitting on the bench to compose herself, coach Oliver told the team’s leading scorer to go back on the court and redeem herself with Fontbonne down by two points and just a minute to play.
“I believe in the kids redeeming themselves,” Oliver said. “The kids make mistakes and should get a chance to make up for them. I wasn’t sure about putting her back into the game, but I’m glad I did.”
Also contributing throughout the game was Siobhon Sammon, Fontbonne’s second leading scorer, who kept the Bonnies close to Kearney, scoring 11 points despite fighting off a fever of 101 degrees. After losing in the Brooklyn-Queens finals for the past two years, first to St. John’s Prep in 2010 and then to St. Saviour in 2011, this nail-biter also turned out to be Oliver’s own game of redemption after his three-year tenure of coaching the varsity team.