By Keith McShea
ALBANY -- Cardinal O'Hara had its season end Sunday afternoon to one of the best high school girls basketball programs the state has ever seen.
Four-time reigning public school champion Irvington of Westchester County won its third overall Federation state title in four years by beating O'Hara, 65-48, today before an estimated 250 at the Times Union Center.
Senior 6-footer Lexi Martins earned MVP honors after putting forth a 22-point, 16-rebound performance despite serious foul trouble (three in the first half) while outstanding senior point guard Brittni Lai had 15 points, four assists and four steals for the Bulldogs, who have won 105 games over the last four seasons.
Cardinal O'Hara was led by senior Leah McDonell, who had 13 points (on 5-of-18 shooting) and was named to the All-Tournament team, and junior forward Kelsey McCarthy, who scored 12 on 6-of-10 shooting and had 11 rebounds. Junior guard Aisha Shabazz added nine points, senior forward Sara DiPasaquale had six points and six rebounds and senior guard Kayla Brown had five points and four steals.
O'Hara injured standout Keyonte Edwards, who was unable to be on hand for the Hawks' semifinal victory here Saturday morning, was on hand to support her team. She surprised her teammates in the locker room for the team's pregame meeting and spent the game seated on the bench just after the coaches, cheering and encouraging her teammates.
The Hawks trailed, 15-8, after the first quarter but made a game of it in the second, when it appeared they would be in the contest the entire way. Martins picked up her third foul with 5:41 left in the second quarter, and with two minutes to go until halftime, O'Hara was within 24-22.
But the Bulldogs closed the half with a 6-0 spurt to take a still precarious lead of 30-22 to halftime. in the third quarter, Irvington displayed the kind of basketball that has earned it piles of plaques and ribbons the last four years.
Martins scored Irvington's first eight points of the third quarter as it opened a 38-26 lead. Two of the baskets came after wonderful hot-potato ball movement which left Martins in the lane with a good shot opportunity.
Then it was Lai's turn, making a steal and layup, and then a three-pointer swished from the left side to put Irvington up, 43-26, with 3:20 left in the third. Irvington kept its cushion to the end of the quarter as it took a 53-35 lead to the fourth, where the lead would hit 19.
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Here's the live blog portion from earlier: