TROY, N.Y. — Jackie DelliSanti attacked the basket as if the game was on the line.
Leanne Corso battled for an offensive rebound as if the score was tied.
Jill Spagnuola played tight pressure defense as if one stop would seal a win.
Sam Miller dived onto the hardwood to corral a loose ball as if one possession would save the season.
And no matter how many points Commack was down, the Cougars’ bench stood and cheered for each basket, each rebound, each stop, each dive, until the final buzzer sounded.
Though Commack trailed throughout its 72-55 loss to Ossining on Friday night in the state Class AA semifinals at Hudson Valley Community College, the Cougars played as if a state title still was within reach until the very end.
“No one gave up no matter what the score was,” said DelliSanti, who had 21 points and seven rebounds. “We put up a fight the whole game. I couldn’t have asked anything more.”
Commack, which trailed by as many as 23 points, cut the deficit to 14 with 5:07 left after a putback by Corso and a three-point play by DelliSanti. But Ossining, with size and speed that the Cougars couldn’t match, responded to close out the game and now is one victory away from winning a fourth consecutive state championship.
“I think a lot of times over the two years, we’ve always been underdogs and no one really thought we would do anything,” Miller said. “Sharing the experience of having only us believe we can do it and then actually doing it was something special.”
Corso had nine points and eight rebounds and Spagnuola added eight points. Lauren Maline came off the bench and played very aggressively, scoring six points and grabbing nine rebounds.
Shadeen Samuels scored 23 of her 32 points in the first half as Ossining built a comfortable lead. Corso converted a putback, sank a three-pointer and then hit two free throws after being fouled on a putback attempt, and her seven straight points pulled Commack within 30-23 with 3:18 left in the half. But Samuels, who is bound for Seton Hall, answered with a layup in transition plus the foul shot to send Ossining into the half with a 39-26 advantage.
Ossining (25-2) shot 51 percent from the field and forced 26 turnovers.
The loss ended a brilliant two-year run for Commack (22-3). It started with the program’s first county title last season en route to two consecutive Long Island crowns.
“We have to keep our head up high and look at everything we accomplished,” DelliSanti said. “Looking back at it, we had such an amazing season and there is nothing I regret about it.”
Added Spagnuola: “We fought all the way until the end even though we were down a lot. The last two years have been amazing. When we’re older, we’ll look back at it and always remember what we accomplished.”