Jennifer Chiera-Frank stood in front of the scorer's table, microphone and paper in hand, and she said a few words about Amanda Oliveira, then Maddy Downes, then Allison Haugh, introducing them one by one on this Senior Night at Clarkstown South.
Believe it, it wasn't so easy for the coach to read those nice words out loud.
"I had to make it short or I was going to cry," she said.
Later Tuesday night, when she needed her seniors the most, they were there for her. Haugh scored 13 of her 20 points in the fourth quarter and Downes added seven of her 13 in those tight final eight minutes, and South managed to edge North Rockland 47-43 to move to 12-4 with two regular-season games to go.
"This is a special, special group for me," Chiera-Frank said about those seniors. "They came in with me. We had zero wins prior to me taking the coaching job. They came in and really turned the program around. So to see them go through these four years, first year four wins, to winning the league last year and having the season that we've had, says a lot about them."
She had a message for her guards, Haugh and Downes, prior to the fourth quarter after they sat for most of the third with three fouls: Step it up.
North Rockland had outscored the Vikings 25-4 over the second and third quarters to come from 13 down and take a 33-25 lead heading for the fourth. Then came a 14-4 South run. Downes made a 3 from the left corner to tie it at 37-37, and Haugh followed with a 15-footer for the lead.
Alex Bertolino, who scored seven of her 12 in the fourth, drove the lane to take back the lead for the Red Raiders at 40-39. But Haugh countered with a 3 to give the Vikings the lead for good. She followed by driving the left side for a 44-40 advantage. It was 45-43 with 3.2 seconds left when Downes went to the line. She made two to clinch it.
"I actually like the pressure because I think it makes me focus a little bit more," Downes said.
The Vikings led 21-8 after one. Haugh said they started to take it easy at that point. And the Red Raiders picked up their play. North Rockland played zone and held Lauren Castaldo to 10 points after she had gone off for 40 in South's 63-60 road win over the young Red Raiders Jan. 4.
"Certainly it was something we focused on, making Allison and Maddy beat us as well as the other players," coach Kevin Metcalf said after his team fell to 10-5.
Two of his players, Olivia Burden and Ciera Rivera, weren't feeling well, although they gamely tried to play on through. Rivera played more and had 10 points. Burden had three.
"As hard a loss as this is," Metcalf said, "this will help us down the road."