Lady Lions beat Curtis HS, 75-69, in championship

3/24/12 – Albany, NY Adapted from an article written by Mitch Abramson for the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

As he walked onto the court Saturday, Bishop Loughlin coach Kasim Alston heard a familiar name coming from an unfamiliar song being piped over the public address system at the Times Union Center.

It was a rap tune about his goddaughter, Tayshana (Chicken) Murphy, the former Loughlin star who was shot and killed on Sept. 11. Recorded by a friend of Murphy’s, the song was given to an arena official by Kasim’s sister, Crystal.

“I had never heard the song before,” Alston said. “It was kind of emotional just walking out there and hearing it.”

Spurred on by Murphy’s memory, Loughlin held off Curtis, 75-69, to win the program’s first state Federation Class A championship. MVP Ayana Ratliff scored a game-high 28 points for the Lions (17-12), who were visibly touched afterward.

Alston’s daughter, Aliyah – who finished with 10 points and hit a pair of clutch free throws in the final seconds – played with Murphy on Loughlin’s JV city championship team as freshmen. Aliyah wore Murphy’s old No. 15 jersey after the game, and she broke down during the team picture.

“It just hit me that Chicken wasn’t here,” Aliyah said. “That’s my sister. We were very close. We dedicated the whole season to her, and then to win the championship…It just all hit me at once.”

The Lions led 38-24 at the half, thanks in part to 15 points from Ratliff and the offensive rebounding of Imani Tate, who finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds. But just as they did on Friday, when they almost blew a 22-point lead against Rochester East, Loughlin nearly suffered a collapse.

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For Bishop Loughlin Coach Kasim Alston’s interview with MSG, click here.