TROY, N.Y — This was Baldwin’s night.
The Bruins could do no wrong, dethroning four-time defending champion Ossining, 73-45, in the state Class AA girls basketball final Saturday night at Hudson Valley CC.
Aziah Hudson had 22 points, Jenna Annecchiarico 14 and Montia Moon 12, leading the Bruins to the program’s first state championship.
“The kids were ready for this,” coach Tom Catapano said. “This is kind of a culmination of eight years of hard work. Tonight they completed their vision quest. I’m so proud of them. We answered the bell tonight.”
It was a nearly perfect display of basketball as the Bruins paired efficient offense with their signature brand of pressure defense. Baldwin held Ossining’s Andra Espinoza-Hunter, who on Friday was named Co-Miss New York Basketball, to six points after the first quarter. She finished with 19.
Baldwin (21-1) will play Mary Louis Academy at 1 p.m. Friday in the semifinals of the state Federation tournament at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
A lopsided second quarter swung the advantage in Baldwin’s favor. After Espinoza-Hunter scored 13 of her team’s 19 first-quarter points on a variety of jump shots, Baldwin held the University of Connecticut commit scoreless in the second.
Stifling defense by Moon and others kept the ball out of Espinoza-Hunter’s hands, allowing the Bruins to go on an 18-4 run. Hudson hit a three-pointer from the top of the arc 53 seconds before the break as Baldwin built a 47-28 halftime lead.
“[Espinoza-Hunter’s] a phenomenal player . . . but I did what I do in every game — I defend,” Moon said. “And I’m a very good defender, so that’s what I did.”
The Bruins extended their sizable advantage in the third quarter with plenty of help from Moon, who usually takes a backseat on offense. She hit a three-pointer from the left corner and added field goals on consecutive possessions, making it 54-30 with 6:16 left in the quarter.
“People overlook just how great of a defensive player she is. But you win championships with players like that,” Catapano said.
Many of the Bruins’ opportunities came on second chances, as their aggressiveness on the boards kept Ossining (21-6) in check.
Ossining coach Dan Ricci was called for his second technical foul with 3:38 left in the third quarter and was ejected. Annecchiarico made both free throws, giving Baldwin a 62-33 lead.
In the fourth quarter, Catapano rewarded his role players for a season’s worth of work, allowing everyone on the roster to get playing time.
While the celebration will be sweet, Hudson knows there’s still work to do at the Federation tournament.
“Monday,’’ she said, “we’re going to be back on our grind.”