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Division shoots past Uniondale
Jay Mumford

If someone told Division HS Head Coach Steve Kissane that his team would snag a come from behind win in the fourth quarter with only one made field goal in the last ten minutes of action, he'd actually believe that person.

“I would expect us to not hit a lot of shots,” he joked after Division fought their way to a 41-38 road victory over Uniondale. “We're not a great shooting team and [Uniondale] were bigger and tough to rebound with, but we played hard and [Laura] Stuart stayed calm and hit some big free throws.”

Contrary to Coach Kissane's views on the Lady Dragons' shooting prowess, it was the mid range and long distance shooting of senior guard, Julie Ballantyne (who scored a game high 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds), that maintained Division's modest lead for much of the game. Her touch offset a glass-dominating and more imposing Lady Knights squad, who pounded the ball inside and used their height in the absence of star guard, Sakiya Hester-Torres, who was sidelined due to academic ineligibility.

Solid play from Jayda Hyatt (who scored a team high 15 points for Uniondale) helped cut into a seven point Division lead in the third quarter, and by the final period, Yadelin Martinez (9 points) and Adriana Wynder (8 points) had joined her to cap a 10-0 Uniondale run and put the Lady Knights out front, 37-32.

Coach Kissane's sentiments began to ring true come fourth quarter though, as Division had no answers from the field. That was when their toughness, defense, and heart had to be utilized as alternatives.

“We don't have much height and we don't look tough, but we are,” said Stuart, who finished with 10 points. “We have strong defense and just had to believe that we could [win]."

When the Lady Dragons couldn't put points on the scoreboard, they prevented Uniondale from doing it. Division's zone press forced the Lady Knights into three costly turnovers in the final three minutes of play. The transition game didn't give any early holiday gifts to Division either, but the charity stripe proved charitable when Uniondale put the Lady Dragons there.

“There's a lot of pressure with free throws,” said Stuart. “But you just have to build your confidence.”

Cool and calm, Stuart did just that. The sophomore showed senior poise, as she nailed six consecutive free throws (she shot 8-8 for the game) to put Division back out front, 39-37. By the time Division finally got a bucket (from none other than Ballantyne) with 47 seconds left to play, Uniondale were faltering and hoping for a desperation shot to fall.
 
“We're a very young team and Susan [Ballantyne] is a senior, but she sprained her ankle on Friday,” revealed Coach Kissane. “I really didn't know how we'd do today, but she played well [with the injury], our sophomores [Stuart] and [point guard] Gina Fader played well and we got it done.”

Ballantyne and Stuart scored all 18 of Division's second half points.

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