- Last Updated: 12:13 AM, June 11, 2012
- Posted: 10:02 PM, June 10, 2012
It was supposed to be the Nazareth seniors' last championship together on the weekend they graduated. Taylor Ford, Darius Faulk and Lisa Blair were looking to continue former coach Apache Paschall and Exodus NYC’s legacy of winning at the Rose Classic as their time as teammates was coming to an end.
A ninth Rose Classic crown and a storybook ending was not to be, however, as Team Prince rallied behind Manasquan guard Katelynn Flaherty for a 74-65 in the title game at JHS 113 in Brooklyn on Sunday afternoon.
The game was supposed to be a semifinal played at 12:30 p.m., but a brawl broke out between the Lady Falcons and New Jersey Sparks, resulting in a double forfeit. Paschall died of a heart attack in January and was on the bench for Exodus’ last title in the fall.
“It’s emotional on many levels,” Exodus coach Lauren Best said. “For me, I just wish Apache was here to say goodbye.”
The group has been a part of two state Federation Class AA titles – one while at since-closed St. Michael Academy – three CHSAA Class AA state crowns and Nazareth’s first ever Brooklyn/Queens championship. They are all headed to Division I schools with Faulk (seven points) going to West Virginia, Ford to Syracuse and Blair going to Ohio State. Rising junior Bianca Cuevas, the league’s MVP, poured in a game-high 31 points.
“People’s misconception about him was that he always wanted to win,” Best said. “As long as his girls went to college and they play hard, that’s all that mattered to him. Championships were fun, but in the end it doesn’t matter as long as we produce good people.”
Exodus led 50-42 after Ford (13 points) beat the third quarter buzzer with a 3-pointer. Team Prince took control of the game from there behind Flaherty and Manasquan teammate Marina Mabrey. A 14-2 run, during which each sank a 3-pointer, gave Team Prince a 62-54 lead with 3:40 remaining. Flaherty scored 30 points, including three 3-pointers, and earned game MVP honors. Mabrey tallied 19 points and Syracuse- bound guard Brittney Sykes chipped in 10 points.
“They set me screens and once I got open and I hit the first couple of shots then I knew,” Mabrey said. “I felt good with the ball. I felt more confident.”
Added Team Prince coach Anwar Gladden: “They can get hot at any moment.”
Ford felt Exodus’ defense relaxed too much, allowing Team Prince’s shooters to get into a rhythml. It pulled within 68-63 on four straight Cuevas points, including a layup in transition, but came up empty on too many possessions to reclaim the title and give its seniors a proper send-off.
“I’m going to miss them,” Best said. “There are not enough words to say how much I love them and how much Apache loved them. There our babies. They are so valuable.”
All-Rose Classic awards announced: The all-tournament first team included Destini Feagin, Marina Mabrey, Lauren (Boogie) Brozoski, Jakelle Gilchrist and Sierra Calhoun. Kollyns Scarbrough, Jenny Ramirez, Kayla Gibbs, Chastity Taylor and Shanice Vaughan made up the second team. Bianca Cuevas was named the league MVP…. Katelynn Flaherty was named top newcomer. Aurellia Cammock was chosen as the tournament's best defensive player and Gibbs was named most improved. Brianna Fraser took homed the scholar athlete award and Shanice Vaughan was given the community service award. … Brozoski earned All-Star game MVP by scoring 12 points to lead the East to a 62-53 win over Shequana Harris (13 points) and the West.Follow @NYPostsports