Baldwin girls basketball coach Tom Catapano said it best when describing the Bruins’ style of play, particularly in Wednesday night’s game against visiting Staten Island Academy.
“It’s organized chaos in a sense,” he said. “We want to wear on people. We want to play fast. We have to limit our turnovers and our fouls, and that’s something we’ll get better at as we play.”
The Bruins were far from perfect, but they did enough to win, 55-40, in the 17th Annual Baldwin Holiday Christmas Basketball Tournament. Aziah Hudson led all scorers with 21 points, while Jenna Annecchiarico flashed aggressive defense to go with 12 points.
Staten Island Academy is the two-time defending state Class A federation champion. Baldwin won last year’s state Class AA championship.
“In the beginning, I thought it was sloppy,” Annecchiarico said. “And when we first came out for the second half, we didn’t come out ready. But we pushed and we just got transition layups, easy layups.”
Baldwin took a 34-25 lead into halftime, but Catapano and the Bruins weren’t pleased. They had far outplayed Staten Island Academy but struggled to at times to limit second-chances.
They took control in the third quarter, though, finishing the period on a 13-3 run for a 49-31 lead. Kaia Harrison scored four points in the spurt and assisted a three-pointer by Annecchiarico, sparking Baldwin when it needed it most.
Harrison and Annecchiarico formed a formidable backcourt defense, using their quick hands to swipe the ball away and then push the tempo. Their defense led to easy baskets for Hudson and Donnetta Johnson (eight points).
“I loved the pace of the game, and I think our kids began to wear on them in the second half,” Catapano said. “There are a lot of positives from this win.”
Ball movement was certainly a positive, with center Destiny Samuel leading the team with five assists. She also pulled in six rebounds, as did Johnson.
Samuel and Sarah Henry drew the tough task of defending Emily LaPointe, a crafty forward who led the Tigers with 18 points. Their physical defense forced LaPointe to struggle from the field but also allowed her to take 14 free throw attempts, of which she made 10.
“This was a great test for us early, in December,” Catapano said. “I knew they were going to come in and give us everything we could handle.”
The Bruins still have kinks to work out, but its overwhelming defense could be enough to carry them again. It’s organized for them and a chaotic nightmare for everyone else.