This title felt different for the Baldwin girls basketball team.
A program such as Baldwin’s rarely is able to use the word “underdog.” But with the Bruins being seeded second in the Nassau Class AA girls basketball playoffs, they would need to win a game as the lower seed in order to take their seventh straight county title.
“People were doubting us,” senior guard Roxana Gayle said. “So we proved it to them.”
And at the forefront of it all was Dana Elcock. The senior guard scored 14 of her 25 points in the fourth quarter, including two three-pointers early in the period, as Baldwin defeated top-seeded Syosset, 60-52, in the Nassau Class AA girls basketball championship game at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum on Sunday night.
“I was feeling hot because of the [three-pointers],” Elcock said. “They were just falling, so I just had to bring that energy to the rest of my team, and that’s what happened.”
Baldwin (17-5), which won its 10th county title in 11 years, will play Northport in the Long Island Class AA championship/Southeast Regional final at 4 p.m. Sunday at St. Joseph’s College.
The Bruins trailed by a point at halftime and after the third quarter. Coach Tom Catapano and his Baldwin team spoke in the huddle before the fourth quarter about how important the opening three minutes of the period would be.
Baldwin outscored Syosset 11-2 in the first four minutes, turning a 40-39 deficit into a 50-42 lead.
“We knew this was going to be a war,” Catapano said. “We have a tremendous amount of respect for Syosset. They are a great team and we knew we had to fight to the very end, and the kids showed that championship [effort] here in the fourth quarter.”
Caroline Ruggiero had 19 points and Lilah Grubman added 18 for Syosset (18-2).
Elcock hit a three-pointer 14 seconds into the fourth quarter to give Baldwin a 42-40 lead and another from beyond the arc to give the Bruins a 47-42 lead with 5:45 left.
“Dana’s been absolutely tremendous this year,” Catapano said. “She has improved leaps and bounds from last year and it’s all [because of] her effort and hard work offseason and in the season. I just couldn’t be more proud of her.”
Gayle, whose three-point play gave Baldwin a 50-42 lead with 4:08 remaining, had 11 points, five assists and four steals. Dallysshya Moreno added 10 points and 10 rebounds and Elcock had three steals with her 25 points.
“Before the game, we were talking about how this is more than basketball, it means more than that,” Elcock said. “So going into the fourth quarter, we just had to do it for the crowd, do it for everyone who believed in us and just keep up that energy. Do all the little things to win.”
The Bruins also didn’t want to be the group responsible for the end of the program’s championship streak.
“They want to continue to keep the legacy alive,” Catapano said. “It’s their turn. They stepped up, they’ve worked tremendously hard for this game in the offseason, and I’m super-proud of them.”
BDW: Elcock 25, Gayle 11, Moreno 10, Dowding 4, Elor 4, Nosworthy 4, Randolph 2. Totals 17-5-60. SY: Ruggiero 19, Grubman 18, Halpern 7, DeCapite 5, Mizrahi 3. Totals 13-6-52. Three-pointers: BDW 5 (Elcock 5); SY 6 (Grubman 3, Halpern, Mizrahi, Ruggiero)