With a finger wrapped in ice and a knee wrapped in tape, Alex Cantwell tried to wrap her mind around a tough defeat.
The pain from the nagging injuries she suffered will subside. The pain from North Shore's 73-69 loss to Williamsville South in a state Class A girls basketball semifinal Friday at Hudson Valley Community College? That subsided seconds after the buzzer sounded.
"There is nothing for us to be upset about," said Cantwell (26 points), who helped the Vikings tie the score after they fell behind by 11 late in the third quarter. "To be the first basketball team at North Shore to win Long Island is something that we'll always be remembered for. It's been an unforgettable experience and it's something to be proud of."
North Shore's performance Friday was something to be proud of, too.
The Vikings' Ashleigh Sheerin (15 points) pump-faked and drove the baseline for a layup to tie the score at 60 with 4:05 left. After Brianna Neeley's layup put Williamsville ahead by two and the Vikings committed a turnover, Cantwell stripped the ball and raced downcourt for a layup that tied it at 62.
Zaria McCullough answered with a straightaway three-pointer and Neeley followed with a layup in transition to give Williamsville a 67-62 lead with 1:47 left. Cantwell's putback on the ensuing possession pulled North Shore within three, but McCullough hit all four of her free-throw attempts in one-and-one situations down the stretch to seal the win.
The loss brought an end to the most successful season in program history for North Shore (19-3), which captured its first Long Island championship.
"We made it up here and we gave ourselves a chance, but we fell short," said Sam Capobianco, the only senior on the team aside from Cantwell. "We never planned on making school history. But we had the team to do it, we put our minds together and we did it."
Freshman Gabrielle Zaffiro scored 16 of her 19 points in the first half, including a leaner in the paint off a feed from Kelly Johansen to give North Shore a 26-18 lead midway through the second quarter. But a 7-0 run late in the quarter helped Williamsville South (24-1) take a 32-31 lead into halftime.
A three-point play by Erin Egan (19 points) gave Williamsville South its largest lead at 49-38 with 2:29 left in the third quarter. But Sheerin scored 10 straight North Shore points late in the third quarter, capped by a three-point play with 13.1 seconds left, as the Vikings moved within 52-51 heading into the fourth.
"Even though we didn't get as far as we wanted up here, we still accomplished so much," Sheerin said. "Back-to-back county titles and a Long Island championship don't happen every day. That shows how hard we worked."
After the game, North Shore coach Keith Freund called Cantwell the "best basketball player to ever walk through the door at North Shore."
She walks out the door -- ice on finger, knee in tape, mind at ease -- knowing she helped lift the program to new heights.
"We were able to accomplish something so big, and something that North Shore basketball had never done," Cantwell said. "That's a great way to be remembered. The memories we made throughout the season will last forever."