Yankees vs. Dolphins: A tragic thriller

The Yankees and the Dolphins dueled to the end only for our Yankees to tragically fall short in a thriller rematch game at Palisades High School.  


Kinidi Curl shooting a free throw as photographed by Marley Herndon

The girls’ basketball team played Palisades for the second time this month and it was a thriller. The last time these two teams played our Lady Yankees won comfortably with a 49-39 final score. This time the story would not end so happily.

After getting knocked down by league leader Westchester High School, the Yankees did not gain the positive momentum they wanted or needed before going into this game. Thankfully, they didn’t let that stop them from playing a good game, even if not their best game, and fighting this one out until the end.

The game started out looking like it would go the same way it did last time. Our Yankees were able to take an early lead over the Dolphins, and the first quarter was 8-5 Hamilton. It was clear this game would be a shootout from the first quarter because of the multiple lead changes, but it wasn’t clear that our Yankees would fall short and end out on the bottom.

The second quarter, while not particularly high scoring, was nothing short of dramatic.  Possession of the ball was the fight here, not getting the ball in the basket. So much of a fight that point guard Kaci Mcalister’s lip busted while contesting the possession of a rebound, getting blood all over the court. This caused the game to be stopped for about three minutes. This isn’t to say that our Yankees didn’t foul the girls at Palisades their fair share of times (it is a contact sport after all). However, those second-quarter fouls by Palisades cost the girls the lead, making the game 12-14 at the half with the Yankees trailing by one shot.  The small comfort they had from the early lead was gone.

The third quarter may not have had as much bloodshed, but it was certainly thrilling. Both teams put up a combined 27 points, which is more than double what they put up in the prior quarter and more points than the teams put up in the entire first half. It was a good old-fashioned shootout. The number of times you could hear spectators on both sides cheering from the top of their lungs “and-1” was almost unprecedented. The quarter ended with the Yankees trailing by exactly one point. It was obvious this game would come down to the wire.

The fourth quarter was just as thrilling. The lead changed so quickly so many times. For a brief moment, it was looking like our Yankees would manage to squeak their way out when they had possession of the ball and managed to be up by exactly one point. Unfortunately, the possession didn’t last, with the game getting even more intense. The Dolphins got their lead up with a couple scored fouls, and managed to equalize and get the and-1 with 20 seconds left on the clock. Usually, that would be enough time for Hami to equalize and send the game into overtime. Unfortunately, Palisades was able to steal the ball, score, and get the and-1, leaving only about 5 seconds of garbage time left. This was devastating to watch.

Final score as photographed by Marley Herndon

The game ended in controversy. There were sideline arguments because the Palisades coach had saved his timeouts for his girls to get possession. Those clock stoppages extended the play clock. The team managers argued on the sidelines with the moderator sitting beside over the incorrect inputs on the clock extensions. When the team representatives questioned the clock manager about the issue, he replied,  “You do your job and I’ll do mine.” The problems with the clock led to the loss of those crucial few seconds of possible possession to seal the game out.

The Yankees were all more disappointed than upset and Head Coach Sherland Chensam told them, “Don’t let this one game get you down.” They left with their heads held high. Many of them learned things from this game that will help with their confidence and skill, and when they meet the Dolphins again in the playoffs, the story will be different. Shooting guard/small forward Elsa Miller said that she realized that she needs to “ box out more on rebounds.” Triple threat Kinidi Curl, who plays point guard, shooting guard, and small forward, said she learned to “play more aggressively from the start and to have short-term memory when it comes to missing shots.”

Chensam did a good job consoling her team after the narrow loss. “This is just one game,” she repeated. She didn’t think the team played to their ability and acknowledged that this is the consequence. She also made clear that this team is very young. “We just started this team  November 9th. That’s JV and Varsity!” She said she is ultimately very proud of this young team. Acknowledging that the series between the Yankees and Dolphins is tied, she said, “We got what we needed to get done at our house, they did what they needed to get done at their house.”

The entire team, players and coaching staff alike, are very confident that the next meeting will go differently. Both Kinidi Curl and Elsa Miller were very confident, both giving a resounding yes when asked if they were optimistic about beating Palisades in the playoffs. Coach Chensam said “We will return and when we win we will dance on their court until they tell us to leave.”