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Destini Walker has never had two free throws as pressure-packed as the ones she had Sunday night in Binghamton. To make it even tougher, she was out at the line all alone.
Walker was fouled with no time remaining and Hudson Valley trailing Central by a point in the gold medal game of the BCANY Summer Hoops Festival. But like she's done so many times before, Walker sank both and delivered the Section 1 all-stars a title in a 91-90 victory.
"All the girls ran out there and grabbed her," Hudson Valley, and Ossining, coach Dan Ricci said. "I think the first was the hardest one. After the first one, she was loose."
Walker, a sophomore as Ossining, scored a game-high 28 points for Hudson Valley, which went 5-0 in the second-annual, three-day tournament.
Hudson Valley struggled throughout with foul trouble and lost the lead in the final minute. Trailing 88-86 with 15 seconds left, Walker drained a 3-pointer in what felt like was going to be the winning basket.
Central, however, responded with a lay-up with eight seconds remaining. During a timeout, Ricci drew up a play.
"The play was supposed to be a double-screen to Saniya (Chong) at the top of the zone," Ricci said. "But she was being double teammed. Destini got the shot just inside the 3-point line and was fouled hard. The girl ran into her and it knocked her to the ground."
Walker calmly hit both free throws to bring home the gold for Hudson Valley, which lost in last year's final.
Hamilton senior Maia Hood finished off a stellar tournament for Hudson Valley, scoring 25 points in the final. Chong added 23.
In the semifinals earlier in the day, Hudson Valley defeated Southern Tier 96-61. Chong had 29 points. Hood had 13 and Irvington's Brittni Lai and Ossining Andra Espinoza-Hunter had 11 and 10 points, respectively.
"I'm surpised and excited," said Ricci, who was confident entering the tournament despite losing Irvington star Lexi Martins with a hamstring injury. "We got into major foul trouble and Breanna Celaj played a lot inside for us. She's only 5-foot-6 and was guarding a 6-4 girl. We were undersized in every game but one. But he had balance in every game. The kids played together and we had a lot of fun."
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