GLENS FALLS, N.Y. — Baldwin’s brand of basketball is passionate and tenacious, so even when the Bruins trailed by 10 in the final seconds of the state Federation Class AA semifinals, they were true to themselves.
Baldwin continued its signature full-court pressure defense and played every possession as if it were its last, showcasing the mentality that brought the program its first state girls basketball championship last weekend.
But the size of Mary Louis proved too much for the Bruins in a 59-49 loss on Friday at Glens Falls Civic Center.
“They’re a tremendous team, but I’m just so proud of my girls and what they accomplished this year,” Baldwin coach Tom Catapano said. “It kind of stinks that it didn’t go our way today, but it doesn’t take away from what these kids did and the journey that they accomplished.”
Aziah Hudson had 23 points and three steals for Baldwin (21-4). Jenna Annecchiarico had eight points and Kaia Harrison and Montia Moon had seven each.
Danielle Patterson, who was named Co-Miss New York Basketball, had 18 points and eight rebounds for Mary Louis (22-7). Vanerlie Valcourt added 12 points and 14 rebounds. Mary Louis will face South Shore, which defeated Long Island Lutheran, 58-53.
Baldwin held a 17-12 lead after a quarter, but Mary Louis outscored the Bruins 17-5 in the second period and brought a 49-35 lead into the fourth.
The Bruins were outrebounded 41-12 in the game. Because they excel in transition, this limited their chances to get out and run.
“We couldn’t really get out on the break because we couldn’t rebound the ball,” Catapano said. “We kept having to take the ball out of bounds, and then they were setting their defense.”
Even while struggling on the boards, the Bruins still fought. No rebound went uncontested and no loose ball was picked up without a Baldwin player diving on the floor.
It’s a hard-nosed style that Catapano has coached into his girls, and they all buy in. It’s that style that has made the Bruins such an explosive team, both offensively and defensively. “We always leave it all on the court,” Moon said. “We’ve always been taught to play with our whole hearts.”
That’s what Baldwin has done all season. A relentless attitude helped get the Bruins over the hump against Central Islip in the Long Island championship game and past Shenendehowa and Ossining in the state’s Final Four.
“We’re happy that we’re state champs, but at the same time, we’re sad that we lost,” Hudson said. “But at the end of the day, we accomplished something way bigger than Baldwin has ever done . . . ”
Losing gritty players in Moon and Sarah Pulis to graduation will leave big shoes for the Bruins to fill, but their impact on the program will continue to be felt. Whenever Baldwin needed a big play on defense, they were usually at the center of it.
It was this do-or-die mindset that propelled Baldwin. “I’m very proud of every single one of us,” Moon said. “This was a dream, and we accomplished it. We got it done. We’re still the state champs.”