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Aziah Hudson finds her range, leads Baldwin to Class AA final

Baldwin's Aziah Hudson (2) drives to the net

Baldwin's Aziah Hudson (2) drives to the net as Shenendehowa's Cameron Tooley (23) and Catherine Almeida (11) attempt to defend her in the first half during a NYSPHSAA Class AA semifinal game on Friday, March 17, 2017, at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, N.Y. Credit: Nick Serrata

TROY, N.Y. — Aziah Hudson had been in a shooting funk since the Nassau AA final against Massapequa, but now that the Baldwin girls basketball star has found her rhythm, watch out.

Hudson caught fire and drilled six three-pointers in scoring 27 points to lead the Bruins to their first-ever trip to the state finals with a 60-46 win over Shenendehowa Friday night in a Class AA semifinal at Hudson Valley CC.

“I had faith in my team and once they started giving me the ball, I had the green light to go,” said Hudson, who picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter but didn’t immediately exit the game. “When I’m in that rhythm, it’s like everything is out of my mind. I just feel unstoppable at the time.”

Baldwin will play four-time defending champion Ossining in the final at 8:45 p.m. Saturday night.

Hudson’s three-pointer with 4:57 left in the third quarter tied the score at 28 and her two free throws on the next possession gave Baldwin the lead for good at 30-28.

Kaia Harrison gave the Bruins some breathing room minutes later by hitting a three-pointer from the right corner and completing a three-point play to extend the lead to 39-30.

“The energy was just great from the bench, the people on the court,” said Harrison, who had 12 points. “Everyone was just hyped and hungry, and we really wanted to win this game.”

A barrage of long-range jumpers in the fourth quarter put Baldwin in the driver’s seat. Kayla Brown and Hudson hit consecutive three-pointers, and after a runner in the lane by Harrison, Hudson hit another triple for a 50-37 lead with 3:05 left to play.

“Aziah was on fire; I can’t believe she had six threes,” said coach Tom Catapano, whose team shot 38 percent (9 of 24) from beyond the arc. “When we’re doing that, we’re tough to beat.”

That might be an understatement.

Knocking down jumpers adds another element to an already fierce attack. Baldwin’s hard-nosed defense creates points on its own and that’s the team’s obvious strength. But in the half court, players excel at forcing contact and finishing in traffic.

Add consistent shooting and the Bruins can be dangerous.

“It was only a matter of time until our shots started to fall and I think that happened in the second half,” Catapano said. “When you’re defending all game long and you make a couple shots, the game kind of opened up for us.”

Hudson, who also made six three-pointers on Jan. 20 against Port Washington, knows what it will take to beat Ossining.

“Hopefully my shots can fall like that tomorrow,” she said.

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