Forward duo powers Lehman to PSAL Class A crown

Charlette Leurs can crash the defensive glass, go coast-to-coast and lay it up on the other end for two points, despite being a big. In the rare case that she isn’t able to get the two points, Paulina Afriyie, another big that runs the floor exceptionally well, was there to clean up.

The duo combined for 38 points, relentlessly powering their way to the rim to secure the seventh-seeded Lions a 60-44 win over No. 1 Bayside in the PSAL Class A girls basketball title game at St. Francis College on March 13.

“Our height was really important,” said Leurs, who finished with 17. “We had to just use what we had and our best strength was our height.”

The pace of the game picked up in the second half thanks to the persistent will of Theresa Leung, Bayside’s senior point guard. Leung finished with 15 points and made some big plays down the stretch. Leung helped cut a Lehman lead that was once 13 to just three early in the fourth quarter.

“We stuck together,” said Afriyie confidently, who finished with 21 points. “There was no doubt for us. We don’t work this hard for nothing.”

Sophomore guard Kendra Sanchez had a team-high 16 points. But the Lions powered through the fatigue and eventually broke away, as the duo repeatedly got to the free throw line, scoring 16 of Lehman’s 20 fourth-quarter points.

“We were tired,” said Leurs. “But we had to keep pushing. We wanted to win and we got it. When they box out one of us, the other one is able to help the team score. There’s always two options.”

Bayside eventually ran out of gas and Lehman cruised to the finish line. After having lost in the quarterfinals last year, Lions beat Mott Haven in the semifinals and muscled their way to a victory over Bayside in the championship game.

Lehman advances to play update power Jamesville-DeWitt in the state Federation semifinals on March 19 at the Times Union Center in Albany.

“The journey wasn’t a struggle,” said Leurs. “It was more about getting used to each other and trying to work together to get to this point where we are now.”

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