Trailing by one with 12 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Bedford High School’s Rachel Collins let a deep 3-pointer fly.
She let them go all night, missing multiple times in the first three quarters of Friday night’s action at Alvirne High School. But this shot from a couple of steps behind the arc, her second successful 3-pointer of the night, came at just the right time for the defending Division I basketball champion Bulldogs, as they remained undefeated with a 46-44 victory.
With the game on the line, Collins wanted the ball. She got it.
“I felt it when I released,” said Collins of the eventual game-winner. “I think if it’s a good shot you can feel it when it’s coming out of your hands. Either way, I knew I had my teammates underneath for any rebound.”
A rebound wasn’t needed on the shot, as Collins’ deep 3-pointer was right on line with only the net.
Alvirne still had a chance to tie the game on the other end, but a pair of missed free throws helped the Bulldogs avoided an upset and escape Hudson at 5-0 on the season, a fact not lost on Bedford head coach Sue Thomas.
“That was a tough one,” Thomas said. “We needed a game like this to stay focused and realize teams are coming after us. They’re not just going to roll over for us.
“I can’t say enough about how Alvirne played. They pushed us. They weren’t giving us anything.”
That was the game plan of Alvirne coach Steve Tracy – tight defense and keep Bedford’s offense on the perimeter. It worked for a good chunk of the game, as Alvirne led 21-17 at halftime.
That is until Bedford’s Mackenzie Brown took over down low. Finally able to work the ball into the post in the second half, the Bulldogs took advantage of their height advantage over the Broncos.
Brown was the beneficiary in the paint, scoring 15 of her game-high 19 in the second half and 10 of those in the fourth quarter alone.
“We had them on the ropes,” Tracy said of his 4-2 Broncos’ one-point lead late. “We were up six at one point and they got right back in it.
“Our game plan worked for the
majority of the game. They cracked it in that last quarter and unfortunately they pulled it out. Oh, man, we had them on the ropes.”
The Broncos also accomplished a feat almost as big as a win would have been. Led by Veronica Moceri’s 18-point night (four 3-pointers) they lost to the Bulldogs by only two points.
“I told the girls, ‘That is a team whose margin of victory this season is 30.75,’?” Tracy said. “We pushed them to the brink and lost to them by two points at the buzzer. If we play with this intensity every night, against every opponent the rest of the season, we’ll be in good shape.”