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North Shore beats Cold Spring Harbor in Nassau Class A final

North Shore guard Alexandra Cantwell handles the ball

North Shore guard Alexandra Cantwell handles the ball on offense in the Nassau girls basketball Class A final against Cold Spring Harbor on Saturday, March 1, 2014. Credit: Steven Ryan

Alexandra Cantwell had taken a seat on the bench. Finally, no more running.

Then her name was called and she had to sprint back to midcourt . . . to retrieve her county championship plaque.

Cantwell and the top-seeded North Shore Vikings ran their way straight to county supremacy Saturday with a 57-51 win over No. 6 Cold Spring Harbor in the Nassau Class A championship game at LIU Post.

Cantwell scored 12 straight North Shore points during a key point in the game and finished with 28.

"I've been around basketball for a long time," North Shore coach Keith Freund said. "There are very few, I would say almost no times, I've seen a kid put her team on her back like that. She just refused to lose."

Cantwell capped her run by opening the fourth quarter with a three-pointer that pulled the Vikings within 42-41, and Gabrielle Zaffiro's layup off a pretty bounce pass from Caroline Robertson gave North Shore (19-2) its first lead since midway through the second.

Cantwell later intercepted a pass and threw an outlet to Zaffiro, who hit the layup, was fouled and converted the three-point play to increase the lead to six. Ashleigh Sheerin, who had 10 points, followed with a layup with 4:14 remaining to cap a 12-0 run and open a 50-42 advantage.

"Like my coach says, basketball is a game of runs," Robertson said. "When we run, we go on a run, and we get pumped. It really helps us."

Alexandra Buonfiglio had 15 points to lead the Seahawks, including a layup that gave them a 38-31 lead with 2:18 left in the third quarter. Caroline Kiernan had 11 points and Brook Jensen added eight.

Cold Spring Harbor (18-3), which advanced to the county final despite graduating key players and moving up in classification, pulled within 52-49 with 1:21 to go on two free throws by Tara Atkinson. But Robertson blocked a shot that could have cut the lead to one and Cantwell drained some late free throws to seal the win.

"This means so much," said Samantha Capobianco, who had six points and 10 rebounds. "We feel comfortable pushing the pace, and that's how we got here."

North Shore will play unbeaten Harborfields in the Long Island Class A championship game at 5 p.m. Friday at Farmingdale State College.

They'll be there thanks in large part to Cantwell, who scored 12 of North Shore's 16 points in the third quarter. "I think after that run, we really just got our confidence back,'' she said, "and that carried us to the end of the game."

Once the game ended, the entire team took a seat on the bench to await the award ceremony and rest what likely were some very tired legs.

"This was our goal from the first practice of the season," Cantwell said. "Being able to win is the best feeling in the world. We finally did it. We finally got what we have been working for."

And what they've been running for.

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