LONG ISLAND CHAMPS
NORTH SHORE EDGES OUT HARBORFIELDS IN HEART STOPPING FINISH
By Tristan Vitale
March 16, 2015 -- This past Friday, the members of the North Shore Women's Basketball team forever engraved their names in the record books as they won the first Long Island Championship in their program's history. The Class A Regional Final held at LIU-Post was a rematch of last year's final between the Tornadoes of Harborfields (19-5) and the Vikings of North Shore (19-2), two very evenly matched teams.
The game came two weeks after the Vikings defeated Wantagh in the Section VIII County Finals. "Having two weeks between games allowed us to prepare fully for the game," said North Shore head coach Keith Freund. "We put in a game plan and executed it perfectly."
Execute perfectly they did, as an all out team effort led to a hard fought 49-47 victory for North Shore, and the biggest win for women's basketball in school history.
The game was a battle from start to finish, with neither team ever being able to build a sizable lead. In a fast paced and physical game, the girls played with extreme intensity, diving for every loose ball and leaving everything they had out on the court.
By the time the fourth quarter came, the score was tied 37-37 and everyone in the crowd was on their feet. In fact, the entire North Shore student section did not take a seat for the last 8 minutes of the game.
The teams traded baskets down to the wire, but with 1:20 left in the game and the score tied at 47, North Shore's senior captain Alexandra Cantwell was fouled and sent to the line for two huge free throws. Under immense pressure, Cantwell showed that she had ice water in her veins as she stayed cool while hitting both to give the Vikings a 49-47 lead in what would prove to be the deciding shots of the game.
Harborfields was given one last chance to either tie or win the game as they rebounded a missed North Shore free throw with 8 seconds left on the clock and down by 2. However, as the Tornadoes rushed down the court, the ball was stolen and secured by junior Kelly Johansen to seal the 49-47 victory for the Vikings.
Freshman guard Gabrielle Zaffiro led all scorers with 21 points for North Shore. "She played a tremendous game," said Coach Freund, noting that Zaffiro also added "5 blocks and 6 steals, all while holding Harborfields' all-time leader in 3-pointers to zero 3s for the game."
After the game though, Coach Freund emphasized that it was "truly a team effort" and everyone greatly contributed.
"Kelly Johansen and Selena Fortich pressured the ball to prevent their fast break. Samantha Capobianco, Gigi Telvi and Ashleigh Sheerin helped to control the rebounds as we out-rebounded them by a considerable margin," said Freund while talking about the efforts of each player in the different facets of the game.
He also highlighted the leadership of Cantwell who although was "fighting a bug and felt sick the entire game, was all over the court and volunteered to guard Harborfields' best player in the fourth quarter and held her to zero points in the final frame."
Even when the girls weren't in the game, they were still all contributing though as "Jessica Suderi, Stephanie Cuomo, Courtney Gilmartin, Jessica Gioia, Paige Barwick and Maddy Leto were coaching the entire game and constantly calling out the opponent's plays and sets."
Everyone did their part to help, and it culminated in a great win and an amazing accomplishment for the Vikings.
North Shore is now set to take on Williamsville South at 1:30 p.m. Friday, March 20 at Hudson Valley Community College in the semifinals of the state tournament.
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