Baldwin's Dallysshya Moreno (12) shoots the ball as Bishop Kearney's...

Baldwin's Dallysshya Moreno (12) shoots the ball as Bishop Kearney's Caydence Hadley (15) defends on Saturday, March 19, 2022, in Troy. Credit: Hans Pennink

TROY, N.Y. — Dallysshya Moreno and her Baldwin teammates weren’t concerned about the scoreboard at that moment. It was about pride, and more important, making longtime assistant coach Anthony Bolden proud.

Baldwin trailed Bishop Kearney by 14 points with 5:20 remaining in the fourth quarter of the girls basketball state Class AA final. Sure, victory wasn’t completely out of reach, but it also didn’t appear likely. But the Bruins embodied their beloved assistant coach Anthony Bolden, who died Sept. 7 of complications from pulmonary fibrosis at 40, and kept fighting.

After each championship this winter, the Bruins have made sure to take a team photo under a pixelated picture of Bolden, which was constructed as a middle school class project taught by Phil Zirkuli, Baldwin athletic director Ed Ramirez said. That poster made its way to Troy.

“I kept looking up at Bolden’s poster,” Moreno said. “That was honestly my entire motivation throughout the game and that’s what I was worried about. I knew we weren’t going to give up until the final whistle.”

Baldwin climbed back from its 14-point deficit and cut Bishop Kearney’s lead to five points with 45.2 seconds remaining before falling, 63-57, in the state final at Hudson Valley Community College Saturday night.

“That’s kind of the way they’ve been all year long,” coach Tom Catapano said. “They’re gritty and resilient and tonight I think they showed no quit.”

Quitting wasn’t an option. Although Baldwin returns the majority of its lineup next season with Paris Nosworthy as the lone senior starter, the Bruins never took anything for granted and wanted to win a state crown this year for themselves and Bolden.

“It kind of signifies what this season has been about,” Catapano said. “We have a very young team, not a lot of people thought they’d be able to do what we did this year and we came out fighting. I think this team battled all year long.”

Baldwin, which won its eighth straight Nassau Class AA title, finished 18-5 and advanced to its first state championship since 2018. Moreno had 21 points and 20 rebounds, Renelle Grannum had 14 points and Katelyn Simpson added nine points Saturday.

“It fuels us to be able to come back up next year,” Moreno said. “And next year’s my senior year, so I promise you this will not be the final [outcome] next year. We are going to come stronger than ever for Bolden.”

“As their coach, I’m just super proud of them and I know Coach Bolden looking down from above is also super proud of them,” Catapano said. “This season was dedicated to him and we carry him with us through everything and today, even though we came up short on the scoreboard, he’s looking down and he’s proud of us.”

And although Catapano is proud of Baldwin’s success in the midst of adversity throughout the year, he hopes Saturday’s loss will provide additional motivation next winter.

“We are really looking forward to building on this for next year,” Catapano said. “Hopefully the girls don’t like the taste in their mouth and it’s going to keep them hungry and driven throughout the entire offseason.”

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