Caroline Robertson was clobbered while driving the baseline, and the hard foul left the North Shore star sprawled beneath the basket. That occurred with 26 seconds left in the third quarter and the Vikings holding a 25-point lead.
"Of course I was a little angry,'' Robertson said. "But I calmed myself down and kept thinking, 'We're going to counties! We're going to counties!' ''
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Robertson didn't exactly turn the other cheek. She retaliated via the scoreboard, sinking both free throws, then nailing a three from the right wing at the third-quarter buzzer. Cool head, hot hand.
And they're going to counties!
Behind Robertson's 24 points and Alexandra Cantwell's triple-double, top-seeded North Shore beat Division, 86-46, Sunday in a Nassau Class A semifinal.
"I didn't think the intent was to hurt her, but the way Caroline responded was absolutely perfect,'' said Cantwell, who was nearly flawless herself with 16 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds.
"Caroline showed discipline and mental toughness,'' coach Keith Freund said of his senior guard.
Last season, an altercation in a playoff game led to multiple suspensions that essentially denied the Vikings a chance to defend their county title. "We learned from that,'' Robertson said, smiling. "No way is that happening again.''
Instead, North Shore dominated Sunday with a combined 52 points in the second and third quarters, earning a trip to the final. The Vikings will face Cold Spring Harbor at 2 p.m. Saturday at LIU Post.
Eighth-grader Gabby Zaffiro had 18 points and three steals and Samantha Capobianco added 11 points and six rebounds for North Shore (18-2).
The game actually was close at one point. The teams exchanged runs early, and Laura Stuart's jumper pulled No. 4 Division within 18-17 late in the first quarter. But that changed in the second, when Zaffiro scored 10 points and Robertson hit two of her five three-pointers, helping stake the Vikings to a 45-27 halftime lead.
Jessica Fressle scored 15 points and Erica Bleimeyer had 12 for Division (18-2).
"Coach always says basketball is a game of runs,'' Cantwell said. "It's about limiting the other team's, sustaining ours and capitalizing when we have momentum.''
Check. Check. Check.
North Shore employed its usual pressing defense and a high-octane, up-tempo offense. "Our depth allows us to play at this pace, and it's a luxury to have,'' said Freund, who rotated 11 players, nine in the first half.
"We want to win another title,'' Robertson said. "We're looking at the big picture, and it's important to maintain our composure.''
Keep calm and carry on . . . to counties.