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North Shore to Floral Park: Back atcha

North Shore guard Meaghan Brennan

North Shore guard Meaghan Brennan (Credit: James Escher)

If a team throttles its opponent by 20 points, and without extenuating circumstances, would it not be fair to surmise that this team is superior? Likely. OK, now what if the losing team returns the favor and routs the other in a rematch?

Not so clear-cut.

And that’s what we have now in Conference A-III, after North Shore beat Floral Park, 72-48, yesterday. The victory evened the teams’ records and adds an extra layer of intrigue to the Nassau Class A playoff bracket.

Caroline Robertson had 24 points, 13 rebounds and six assists to lead North Shore. Samantha Capobianco added 19 points and seven rebounds, and Alexandra Cantwell had eight points, 12 rebounds and six assists.

Floral Park, after its surprising 85-65 domination of the Vikings last month, easily was considered the best team in the conference and the likely favorite to win the county title. But North Shore topping its rival by 24 in the regular-season finale, clearly, creates for them a credible argument.

With both teams at 15-2 overall and 13-1 in the conference, it’ll be interesting to see which gets the No. 1 seed. Which game holds more weight. Perhaps the most recent, as it could be considered a better indicator of what the teams are now, heading into the playoffs. But Floral Park’s earlier win can’t be dismissed. Nor can it be overlooked that they were last year’s county runner-up.

It also calls begs the question: What changed? What was the difference on Monday?

“The first game really exposed some holes in our defense,” Vikings coach Keith Freund said. “We worked hard to close those holes and we’ve solidified our defense.”

North Shore held the Knights to six points in the second quarter as they pulled away for a 39-22 halftime lead.

“It shows our character and how good this team is,” said Ashleigh Sheerin, who scored eight points and was strong defensively on the perimeter. “We really wanted this. Especially losing to them like we did, it motivated us more to come out and play as well as we could.”

The defensive holes Freund alluded to, Sheerin said, were mostly fundamental errors on the outside and “reaching instead of moving our feet.”

Floral Park lost Natalie Hickman to a leg injury during the game, coach Michael Spina said.  Kaela Hilaire, the Knights’ explosive point guard, scored 18 points, but six in the fourth quarter, with the game out of reach. Forward Lorraine Hickman added 16 points.

“We came to the realization that we need to keep our composure and stay focused for the entire game,” guard Meg Brennan said. “[Floral Park is] great and Kaela is awesome, but Ashleigh played fantastic man-to-man defense, which was one of the keys for us to win.”

Another factor, Freund said, was being at home. His theory is that in girls basketball, home court advantage can be worth as many as 10 points.
“Our rims, our balls, our lights,” he said. “We play much better at home and we always have. It’ll be good for us that from here on out we’ll either be home or at a neutral site [during the playoffs].”

As for the magnitude of Monday's victory, Brennan said it doesn’t matter a great deal and the excitement wouldn’t last long.

“It was a great win, but we have to put it behind us,” the senior said. “We have to look at the big picture prepare for the playoffs because we want to get to counties and states.”

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