Paul Nosworthy was a 6-4, 280-pound starting tackle for Baldwin's football team last fall, so he knows plenty about blocks.

As the starting center on the Bruins' basketball team, Nosworthy also is comfortable in the blocks of his winter game.

Nosworthy was a low-post presence all game with a double-double and, more importantly, scored eight of his 12 points in the fourth quarter to help Baldwin hold off stubborn Uniondale, 53-45, in the Nassau Class AA championship game Saturday at Hofstra.

"I had to show heart and go to the basket," said Nosworthy, who grabbed 10 rebounds, made four steals and, of course, had two blocks. "I wanted a championship in my senior year. This means a lot to me because we lost [to Syosset in the Conference I championship game] in football and we lost last year in basketball [to Farmingdale in the county final].''

The Bruins might have suffered another tough defeat if not for Nosworthy's noteworthy performance. Uniondale used a stifling defense to rally from an 11-point third-quarter deficit and got within 39-38 on a three-pointer by Talek Butler (15 points) with 6:18 left in the fourth quarter.

Nosworthy then used his wide frame to back into position for consecutive baskets and deflected a shot that Paul Colson turned into a fast-break layup and a 45-38 lead. The Knights (14-6) cut it to 45-42 with three minutes left, but Nosworthy maneuvered for a running flip shot in the lane.

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Uniondale's Shomari Redd scored four straight points to make it 49-45 with 1:52 left, but Nosworthy again had an answer. This time he moved outside his comfort zone to sink a soft jump shot from the baseline with 1:18 left.

Daraja Rodwell scored 16 of his 19 points in the first half for Baldwin (19-1), which advanced to a much-anticipated rematch with Brentwood for the Long Island Class AA championship at 5 p.m. Saturday at Farmingdale State. The Indians handed Baldwin its only defeat, 73-61, in the Nassau-Suffolk Challenge on Jan. 17.

"We only have one loss, so there's no doubt we're looking forward to playing Brentwood," said Rodwell, Long Island's top three-point shooter with 70.

He made three from downtown Saturday but also showed he could take it to the basket with three first-quarter penetration moves.

"I take what the defense gives me," the senior said. "Coach says I have the right to shoot it from NBA three-point range, but they were playing me too tight early so I went to the basket."

Rodwell, Baldwin's leading scorer for the season with a 17.2 average, said he had no problem with Nosworthy having the ball in crunch time. "He's strong. He's got skills and he's got finesse," Rodwell said. "The whole team trusts him."

So does Baldwin coach Darius Burton, who earned his 250th victory and said he is 250-66 in 15 seasons. "We spoke by text message after practice and he told me he'd get it done," Burton said of his Friday night exchange with Nosworthy. "He's an ox, a bull, and he's heady, too. He played like a champion."

And now Nosworthy is just that. At last.