New York High School: Kasim Alston

The girls CHSAA crowned its State champs in Class A and Class B as Bishop Loughlin defeated Mary Louis and Cardinal O'Hara of Buffalo fell to Preston on Saturday.

Bishop Loughlin 56, Mary Louis Academy 46: Bishop Loughlin coach Kasim Alston believed his team had an extra player on the court during Saturday's CHSAA Class A State title game against Mary Louis Academy.

"Chicken's here," Alston said in reference to former player Tayshana "Chicken" Murphy, who was killed in September. "We played six on five, they didn't even know. I had six players on the court."

Fueled by the memory of their former teammate, Bishop Loughlin defeated Mary Louis Academy, 56-46, on Saturday at Christ the King. The Lady Lions (15-12) advance to the State Federation tournament in Albany in two weeks.

Alston wore a suit for most of the game but with his team up 18 late, he threw on a No. 15 jersey, the one that Murphy used to wear. He wore the jersey for about the final minute and a half as his team put the final touches on its win against Mary Louis, the third time in four tries it beat Mary Louis (13-17) this season.

The coach talked after the game how this was all part of his plan for when he became the head coach at the school. He envisioned he players he had coached in their youths would come to Bishop Loughlin and help develop a winning tradition. He said Murphy was part of that plan.

"It feels so good that everything is coming together as planned," Alston said. "Chicken is not here physically but she's here in spirit."

Loughlin trailed 26-24 at the half but used an impressive second half to grab the victory. It took a 40-32 lead into the third and never was truly challenged down the stretch. Senior Ayana Ratliff led Loughlin with 19 points.

"I just had to win," Ratliff said. "Our team had confidence in me, they gave me the ball and I did the best I can."

Cardinal O'Hara (Buffalo) 56, Preston 41: The Preston girls basketball team fell just short of winning the CHSAA Class B State title on Saturday, losing to Cardinal O'Hara, but their overall season was not lost on the mind of coach John Martin following the defeat.

"It's been tremendous. It's been a great year. They really came together all season and it's a tribute to their hard work and dedication to the program. I'm very happy with the season," Martin said. "We won the Archdiocesan, we won the City and we bring back most of our team. It's been a great year and we're looking forward to the future as well."

After winning the Archdiocesan crown and City title, the Panthers fell to Cardinal O'Hara of Buffalo, 56-41, on Saturday afternoon at Christ the King. The Panthers (25-6) never led in the game and trailed by double-digits for most of the final three quarters.

"They were very deep and they were very physical," Martin said. "I don't think we were used to the physical play and it took us a while to get adjusted to it. I think that had an impact. They were very up-tempo as well and a very good team, very strong."

Cardinal O'Hara led 13-6 after one and boosted the lead to 26-12 at halftime. Preston never truly challenged the Lady Hawks the rest of the way and fell one game short of heading to Albany to play for the State Federation title. Victoria Sorrell led Preston with 12 points.

Next season, Preston should be right back in the mix for the State and City titles. The team is primarily built of juniors and sophomores and this experience will benefit them going forward.

"They learned a lot this year," Martin said. "They learned how to play together very well and the experience we went through this year will only prepare them better for next season."

Bishop Loughlin wins Class A City title

March, 7, 2012
The Bishop Loughlin girls basketball team has been playing this season for former teammate Tayshana "Chicken" Murphy, who was killed in September, and they honored her in a grand way on Wednesday night.

The Lady Lions won the girls CHSAA Class A City title with a 66-62 win in overtime over Mary Louis Academy. Bishop Loughlin now advances to the Class A State tournament, where it will be the top seed from New York City and face Holy Trinity on Friday in the semifinals.

"We really did it for the one we lost, Tayshana "Chicken" Murphy," Bishop Loughlin coach Kasim Alston said. "Everyone is playing for her and we lost some games during the year but we did it for her. These girls really fought and pulled it together."

Murphy, a guard who was at Murry Bergtraum when she was killed, had been at Bishop Loughlin for her freshman year and part of her sophomore year. Alston was her godfather and the girls on the team were familiar with Murphy, who was one of the top prospects in New York City. She was killed on Sept. 11 outside her home.

"I have a daughter who plays and everyone was extremely close to Chicken," Alston said. "She played with of these girls when she came here."

Loughlin (13-12) trailed after Mary Louis (12-16) went ahead on a 3-pointer late, but Loughlin quickly retook the lead before Mary Louis hit a free throw to force overtime. The Lady Lions controlled the game in overtime. Imani Tate had 23 for Loughlin while Aliyah Alston added 16. Mary Louis joins Loughlin in the State tournament and will face Sacred Heart.

Loughlin's victory put the icing on the cake for a long road to glory for the Lady Lions. The squad was in Class B before moving up to Class A, where it didn't win a game, and then making the Class A playoffs last year. Finally, the Lady Lions were able to climb the mountain.

"We can't wait to get into the gym and go to work," Alston said. "We can't wait to play Friday."