With the Falcons holding a two-point lead with one minute left, Flaherty, wide open, boldly unleashed - and sank - a 3-pointer.
The long-distance basket at 51.8 seconds was just one of the key components of No. 3 Jefferson's 52-49 victory over sixth-seeded Hanover Park in the game played on Saturday, Feb. 11 at Morris Knolls High School.
"I heard nothing," said Flaherty, one of three Falcons in double figures with 14. "I just had to go for it. It felt so good. I was so happy. I got chills."
Jefferson coach Jim O'Connor had a much different feeling when Flaherty, who pulled the tricep in her shooting arm during Friday's practice, put the ball up. It wasn't that he didn't trust her. It was just that it was so close and... Actually, he understood.
"Kristen's a shooter," O'Connor said. "She did well throughout. You can't turn her mentality on or off. She's a shooter and that's it."
Flaherty's 3-pointer pushed the Falcons' advantage to five points, 48-43. Jefferson, which will appear in the MCT semifinals for the second consecutive season, made 4-of-5 free throws to close out its scoring. The four foul shots all came off the hands of Imani Brown.
Hanover Park, of course, did not give up, getting two baskets from Meghan Maguire in the final 25.3 seconds.
Jefferson (18-1) also received stellar efforts from forwards Sammy Lapszynski (17 points, 12 rebounds) and Kristen Swerzenski (15 points, 4 rebounds, 6 steals).
Swerzenski, a junior, came up big after missing three days of school and a game with a sinus infection. She saw limited action in the Falcons' previous game against Morris Hills.
But, on Saturday, Swerzenski was close to top form and anxious to return to action.
"It was a big game and I wanted to play," Swerzenski said. "I'm not really 100 percent. This game was important. We did it for the seniors. It's their last year so we did what needed to be done."
The game was tied, 25-25, at halftime before the Falcons went in front, 39-34, after three quarters. Lapszynski, headed to Niagara University, and Swerzenski went to work, combining for nine points. A seven-point run, capped by a Flaherty 3-pointer, put Jefferson up, 36-29.
Hanover Park (15-6) didn't back down. With Jefferson holding a 41-34 lead early in the fourth quarter, the Hornets had a flurry of 3s. Liana Ilutzi, Kate Bodnar and Maria Santora each had one, bringing Hanover Park within one, 45-43. That's when Flaherty struck back with a 3-pointer of her own, the one that put the Falcons in front to stay.
Santora had 13 points and Ilutzi added 11 to pace a balanced Hanover Park attack. Bodnar and Lauren Daugherty had nine points apiece.
"It was determination," Swerzenski said. "Everyone just wanted it. We knew we were one step from the semifinals. We could even be in the final. That's the driving force."
O'Connor, whose teams claimed five Sussex County Interscholastic League Festival titles before a realignment three years ago landed them in the NJAC and the MCT, lauded his players for their composure.
"Hanover Park has a lot of great players and Doug (Wear) does a nice job," he said. "Our kids hit some big shots and stayed calm. We're fortunate to get out with a win."
Multitasking, as O'Connor calls it, has been something he has had to become used to in recent years. When Jefferson was in the SCIL, it played its entire conference slate before going into the county then the state tournament. Now, league and MCT games take place at the same time.
"You definitely need a different mindset for it," O'Connor said.