Girls' basketball: Palisades wins first City Open Division title

There wasn’t a trace of pink in Narbonne’s uniforms Saturday night in the City Section Open Division final, but in the end the Gauchos saw too much Palisades blue.

The Dolphins held off a furious Narbonne rally in the fourth quarter to win 60-56 in a rematch of last year’s Division I semifinal. Kayla Merrill-Gillett scored 20 points, Chelsey Gipson had 15 and Bianca King added 14 as Palisades extended its winning streak to 20 games.

“There was a lot of pressure but you have to stay calm and keep positive energy,” Merrill-Gillett said. “We moved the ball really well and we played great team defense.”

The top-seeded Gauchos (23-6) used a 13-0 run to take a 47-45 lead but Gipson banked in a three-pointer to put second-seeded Palisades (23-10) back in front with 3:25 left.

Narbonne pulled to within a point with one minute to go, but Merill-Gillett was fouled with 10.9 seconds left and swished both free throws to make it 60-56. The Gauchos lost the ball on their ensuing possession.

Narbonne was removed from the playoffs for wearing illegal uniforms in its semifinal victory over View Park but the Gauchos filed an appeal and were allowed to play in the final, but Coach Victoria Sanders was suspended and boys pilot Anthony Hilliard coached in her place Saturday.   

“I’m was thrilled playing Narbonne,” said Palisades coach Torino Johnson, who led the Dolphins to Division II titles in 2011 and 2012. “There’s nothing better than having the opportunity to play the best.”

-- Steve Galluzzo

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