Danielle Perfetto of Manhasset starts the play from the top...

Danielle Perfetto of Manhasset starts the play from the top of the key with South Side's Ellie Lennon defending during a Nassau girls Class AA semifinal playoff game at SUNY Farmingdale on Monday, February 26, 2024. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

The Manhasset girls basketball team had just witnessed its 16-point advantage dissolve to one over the first six minutes of the fourth quarter. And although it wasn’t the original plan, the youngest player on the Manhasset roster was ready when her team needed her most.

Danielle Perfetto, a freshman, stood in the corner as Mia LoPinto drove the lane following a Manhasset timeout with two minutes left and holding a one-point advantage. After the defense collapsed on LoPinto, the senior kicked the ball out to Perfetto, who knocked down the pivotal three-pointer.

“We kind of just went for it,” said Perfetto, noting it wasn’t how the play was drawn up. “It’s just the trust we have in everyone and I was very confident with the shot. I knew the game was on the line and I just wanted to get it done for my team.”

Top-seeded Manhasset defeated No. 4 South Side, 44-38, in the girls basketball Nassau Class AA semifinals at Farmingdale State College on Monday night. Perfetto’s shot gave Manhasset a 40-36 lead with 1:40 left in the fourth quarter and stopped a 17-2 run by South Side to open the fourth quarter.

“It just goes to show that any single person on this team can make a huge play,” LoPinto said. “Danielle was open, she had a better shot than I did, so I had more faith in her than I did myself in that moment.”

Manhasset (19-3) advances to play No. 7 East Meadow in the Nassau Class AA finals at 5 p.m. on Monday at Farmingdale State College. South Side finished at 16-6.

Manhasset scored seven of the game’s final nine points. LoPinto led all scorers with 15 points, Perfetto added 11 and Lauren Perfetto, Danielle’s older sister, had eight points.

Manhasset used a 17-6 third quarter to open a 35-19 lead entering the fourth quarter after leading 18-13 at halftime. But South Side scored eight points in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter and ultimately cut Manhasset’s lead to 37-36 before Perfetto’s three.

“You could see it a little bit [of nerves] when they come off [the court] and there’s a little bit of a glare in their eye,” coach Chuck Collyer said. “But the first thing myself and [assistant] coach Lauren Sadeh said is, ‘Just relax. We’re still up, let’s go out and execute plays the way we are capable of.' "

“I think everyone really trusts each other and we knew we had to stop their momentum,” LoPinto said. We have trust in every single player on this team and know we can all make big plays in a big moment. We just wanted to take it one possession at a time and we knew we kind of had it in our hands. We just didn’t want to let it slip.”

Manhasset, winners of the Nassau Class A and Long Island Class A championships last season, wants to continue the program’s momentum and take home another title.

“Everyone sees us as having big things to live up to, but it just gives us more motivation than ever,” LoPinto said. “Everyone wants to get back to counties and LICs and get back upstate, but it’s really just taking it one game at a time.”

Jets seek history

East Meadow’s Cinderella postseason run continues to the Nassau Class AA final. Seventh-seeded East Meadow defeated No. 3 MacArthur, 60-25, in the girls basketball Nassau Class AA semifinals at Farmingdale State College on Monday night. East Meadow (18-5) is seeking its first county title in program history.

East Meadow used an 11-0 run over the first 1:36 of the second quarter to open an 18-5 lead. After holding a 30-14 advantage at halftime, the Jets opened the third quarter on a 14-0 run to take a 41-14 lead with 5:10 left in the third quarter.

Charlotte Viola had 19 points and Angelina Cronin had 17 points for East Meadow.

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