Cold Spring Harbor's Katie Durand attempts a shot between two...

Cold Spring Harbor's Katie Durand attempts a shot between two Division defenders. (Dec. 12, 2011) Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

With the young core of last year's county championship squad returning, Cold Spring Harbor was a heavy favorite to repeat this season. The voyage was not easy, as junior point guard Katie Durand missed the last seven regular-season games with mononucleosis, but the Seahawks persevered.

Durand had 10 of her 11 points in the first half and was named tournament MVP, Kelly Vassallo had 12 points and Kelly Gubitosi 11 points and seven rebounds for No. 1 Cold Spring Harbor in a 45-31 win over No. 3 Locust Valley in the Nassau Class B girls basketball championship Saturday night at LIU Post. Cold Spring Harbor (17-2) repeats as county champions and wins its fifth county title.

"It feels great. It feels like it took forever to get here," Cold Spring Harbor coach Rory Malone said. "That was our goal from the beginning of the year: to get back to the Nassau County finals. It's almost relieving. I think we had a lot of pressure on us this year. We definitely had a target on our back."

Cold Spring Harbor plays Class C champion Friends Academy in the Nassau Small Schools championship at noon March 3 at LIU Post. The Seahawks also advance to the Long Island championship against Suffolk champion Southampton at 7:30 p.m. March 7 at Farmingdale State.

After coming up short in last year's LIC, Durand said the Seahawks are aiming to take home more hardware this year.

"We want it real bad," said Durand, who had four assists and three rebounds. "We want to get further definitely than last year and have a longer season and get our seniors a bit more basketball season."

Said Malone: "It's definitely an important goal for us. Last year, we were kind of wide-eyed and maybe a little happy to be there. This year, it's definitely a goal, we're facing an excellent team in Southampton. We feel like we can put up a fight."

Cold Spring Harbor led 11-6 after the first quarter and opened up its lead by playing great defense during a 15-4 second quarter. The Seahawks held Locust Valley without a field goal for more than 12 minutes spanning from late in the first quarter until 3:57 left in the third quarter and outscored the Falcons 20-7 in that time.

"Our defense is our main weapon," Malone said. "We play hard. We played hard today the whole entire game on the defensive end. You saw it in the second quarter; it's what we do best."

Vassallo, who had three rebounds, found her usual comfort zone with midrange jump shots from the wings.

"I try and take further shots and closer shots, but it's right in the middle, so they don't really know what I'm going to take," she said. "It's my shot, it's a good range there."

Brooke Spallino and Caroline Rawa each had seven points for Locust Valley (13-6). Rawa made a three-pointer with 3:59 to go to cut the gap to 39-29 but the first-half hole was too much for Locust Valley to overcome.

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