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SportsHigh SchoolGirls Basketball

Aziah Hudson leads Baldwin girls into Nassau AA final

Aziah Hudson #2 of Baldwin, left, looks to

Aziah Hudson #2 of Baldwin, left, looks to get to the net during the Nassau County varsity girls basketball Class AA semifinals against Freeport at LIU Post on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017. She scored a team-high 19 points to lead the Lady Bruins to a 54-36 win. Credit: James Escher

Defending against the Baldwin girls basketball team is not for the faint of heart. They are overwhelmingly quick, incredibly efficient, and unbelievably intense. They push the ball, crash the glass, and dare opponents to match them stride for stride.

If you can’t run with them, good luck beating them. Baldwin, the top seed in Nassau’s Class AA tournament, used that punishing attack early to put away fourth-seeded Freeport 54-36 in a semifinal Saturday afternoon at LIU-Post.

Aziah Hudson led all scorers with 19 points. Jenna Annecchiarico had 15 points and Kaia Harrison added 13. Baldwin (18-3) will face second-seeded Massapequa, who topped No. 3 Syosset in the second game of the Class AA semifinal double-header, in the finals March 4 at Hofstra.

“We were very motivated today,” Hudson said. “Our defense came first and (meshed) with our offense. As soon as we did well on defense, then we did well on offense.”

Baldwin began the game on an 18-2 run, dazzling the crowd with its fast-paced attack and quickly putting the contest on ice.

“We came out fast,” Baldwin coach Tom Catapano said. “I thought our pressure gave them some problems. We were ready to go, right from the jump.”

Hudson scored the Bruins’ first seven points, capping her personal run with a three pointer. Freeport (15-5) was forced to call a timeout after Hudson’s basket with 4:48 left in the first pushed the lead to 14-2.

“My teammates got me open and gave me good passes and open lanes. I was just in the moment.” Hudson said. “Once they called that timeout, we knew that we were overwhelming them and doing a good job.”

Hudson finished the first quarter with 12 points. Harrison added six.

“That’s what Aziah does,” Catapano said of Hudson’s fast start. “She’s one of the best scorers on Long Island and she just has a knack for putting the ball in the basket. She came out hot, was firing on all cylinders and set the tone for us.”

Annecchiarico was happy to yield the bulk of the first quarter scoring duties to the hot-handed Hudson.

“When Aziah is hot, we just give her the ball because we know she’s ready and she’s going to get us up,” Annecchiarico said. “Aziah was on the run . . . No one could stop her.”

Annecchiarico took the reins in the second quarter, knocking down two consecutive three pointers early in the frame that pushed the Bruins' lead to 31-7.

Early , often, and scoring in bunches. It was just that kind of day for Baldwin.

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