NORTH SHORE WOMEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM ADVANCES TO COUNTY FINALS WITH 64-53 WIN OVER FLORAL PARK
February 22, 2015 -- The North Shore Women's Basketball team advanced to the Nassau County Class A finals by defeating the Floral Park Knights in the first of two semi-final games at the SUNY-Old Westbury Athletic Center this past Friday evening. The Vikings (17-2) led throughout much of the contest, occasionally pulling away by several points, only to have the gritty Floral Park team (17-3) repeatedly claw its way back to even the score.
The teams could not have been more different, with the Knights' play dominated by their star point guard, 5'2" Kaela Hilaire, who scored 30 of her team's 53 points, and assisted on many others. No other Floral Park player exceeded 5 points in the contest. North Shore's performance was more balanced with three players scoring in double digits - senior Alexandra Cantwell (23 points), sophomore Ashleigh Sheeran (16) and freshman Gabrielle Zaffiro (13), while Selena Fortich and Kelly Johansen contributed greatly on defense and Samantha Capobianco and Guilanna Tevli gave North Shore the edge on the boards.
At the game's mid-point the score was deadlocked at 23 points apiece, but North Shore came out of the locker room fired up scoring the first seven points of the second half. However, just as in the first two periods, Floral Park, led by Hilaire, came back and eventually evened the score at 39 with just a couple of minutes left in the third.
But the Knights would not get that close again. In the next possession, Zaffiro swished a three-pointer, and then followed with another two points. At the buzzer ending the third, Sheeran was fouled, and making the second of two free throws extended the Viking lead to six points.
Early in the fourth, a three pointer by Kelly Johansen stretched the difference to 10 points, but once again Floral Park came back, shrinking the deficit to three points at 49-46 with five minutes left to play.
It was at that point, that Cantwell became the dominant force, driving to the basket on the next possession, and despite being fouled scored on the lay-up and then completed the three point play with her free throw. After Floral Park came to within four, Cantwell on the next possession, once again drove to the basket, but this time dished off to Sheeran who made the lay up. After the Knights failed to score, it was dèjá vu as Cantwell again drove to the basket, but this time passed to Samantha Capobianco who finished the play giving the Vikings a 56-48 point lead. With 2:30 left, Cantwell netted a three pointer extending the lead to 11.
In the closing minute and a half, Floral Park began fouling to regain possession and make up some ground, but to no avail, as the Vikings' free throw shooting was consistent enough to maintain the 11 point advantage, earning a 64-53 victory.
Commenting on the game, North Shore Coach Keith Freund said that it "was absolutely an entire team effort" and commended his players for their efforts on defense, offense and on the boards.
"Their point guard is so difficult to guard, but Ashleigh Sheerin, Kelly Johansen and Selena Fortich did a tremendous job on her," he said. Samantha Capobianco and Guilianna Telvi helped control the rebounding edge, as Gabrielle Zaffiro scored key baskets while holding Floral Park's second leading scorer to 5 points."
"The anchor for North Shore, however," Coach Freund continued, "was Alexandra Cantwell. Essentially, playing on one leg, she scored 24 points and had 13 rebounds, 7 assists and 6 steals."
In the second game of the semi-final double header, the third-seeded Wantagh Warriors defeated second-seeded Garden City in overtime.
The top seeded Vikings will try to repeat as Nassau County Class A Champions when they take on the Warriors next Saturday, February 28 at 5 pm at the LIU CW Post Gymnasium.
"Playing Wantagh in the County Finals is going to be a battle of styles," said Coach Freund. "We want to run and press and they want to grind out the game with their 6' 4" center posting up the entire game. Whoever controls the pace of play, will be successful in the game. It should be a great game."
Alexandra Cantwell - 23
Ashleigh Sheeran - 16
Gabrielle Zaffiro - 13
Samantha Capobianco - 7
Kelly Johansen - 3
Giulianna Telvi - 2
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