VIKINGS CAPTURE COUNTY TITLE WITH THRILLING 50-46 WIN OVER WANTAGH
By Tristan Vitale
This past Saturday, the North Shore Women's Basketball team defeated Wantagh in the Nassau County Class A Finals held at LIU-Post to gain their astonishing third county title in the last four years. The #1 seeded Vikings (18-2) jumped out to an early lead and consistently held off late surges by the #3 seeded Warriors (18-3) in order to secure the victory.
After scoring their first basket of the game, the Vikings took a lead that they would not give up for the rest of the contest. In a fast-paced first half combined with very fundamentally sound basketball from North Shore, it seemed like the Warriors would not be able to keep up. Behind a balanced scoring attack headed by senior Alexandra Cantwell and sophomore Ashleigh Sheerin, and strong defense from senior Samantha Capobianco down low, the Vikings took a commanding 29-19 lead heading into the break.
However, the Warriors proved to not be broken as they came out fired up in the second half and slowly began to chip away at the lead. Under the lead of 6'4" senior Alex Parlato, Wantagh was able to cut the lead to 37-32 at the end of the third quarter.
For the final 8 minutes of the game, the gym did not experience a single silent moment. North Shore and Wantagh fans battled each other with chants from across the gym to show their support for their teams. As the decibel levels rose, the girls fed off the energy of the crowd and elevated their level of play.
As the Warriors began to close in on the lead late in the game, cutting it to 43-41 with just two and a half minutes left to play, it was time for senior captain Alexandra Cantwell to take charge for the Vikings. With ice blood in her veins, Cantwell hit 5 consecutive free throws in the last 2 minutes of the game, and scored the Vikings' last 7 points to seal the 50-46 victory.
After the game, North Shore head coach Keith Freund stated that "the key to our success was our team defense," while noting the significance of the contributions of each player for the Vikings.
Coming into the game, the Vikings knew the 6'4" Parlato of Wantagh would present a challenge. However, although Coach Freund recognized her as a "dominating presence," he thought his team "did a tremendous job keeping her from controlling the game," giving specific praise to Samantha Capobianco for keeping her in check throughout the contest.
Coach Freund continued his commendation of the defense by saying, "In addition, Ashleigh Sheerin, Kelly Johansen and Selena Fortich kept constant pressure on their All-County point guard, making her work on every possession." Sheerin would be named an All-Tournament Team Selection after the game.
Furthermore, Freund highlighted junior Giuliana Telvi saying "Gigi played huge minutes and helped us dominate the glass, as we held a considerable edge in the rebounding department," and freshman Gabrielle Zaffiro saying "Gabrielle made key defensive stops throughout the game," of which included a huge block on a fast break and a steal with a minute and a half left to help close out the game for the Vikings.
Finally though, "the overall dominating play of Alex Cantwell helped seal the victory and hold off the Wantagh rally," said Freund. "She was by far the best player on the court," he continued, as her ability to fill the stat sheets and lead her team led Cantwell to be named Class A Tournament MVP for the second year in a row.
On Friday, March 13 at 5 p.m. at LIU-Post, the Vikings will take on the Suffolk County champs of Harborfields in a rematch of last year's Long Island Class A Championship which Harborfields won 56-50. It has the makings for a very exciting matchup.
North Shore Scoring:
Alexandra Cantwell- 25
Ashleigh Sheerin- 9
Samantha Capobianco- 7
Gabrielle Zaffiro- 6
Kelly Johansen- 2
Giuliana Telvi- 1
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