Kennedy Radziul, Northport girls basketball advance to Suffolk AA final
In a matchup between two of Suffolk’s highest scoring offenses, nobody expected the defensive clinic that ensued.
With Northport predominantly playing man defense, Kennedy Radziul was tasked with slowing down Floyd’s prolific scorer, Kayla Gilmore.
Radziul accepted the challenge.
Top-seeded Northport defeated No. 4 Floyd, 47-27, in the semifinals of the Suffolk Class AA girls basketball playoffs Wednesday at Longwood High School.
Gilmore scored five points, all of which came in the first quarter. She entered averaging 21.5 points per game.
“We were focused on shutting her down because she’s such an amazing athlete,” Radziul said. “Everyone helped out when screens came ... It wasn’t any individual, it took the whole team.”
Northport led the county with 62.5 points per game in the regular season. Floyd was seventh with 52.4.
“We still had to play some offense and the girls did a superb job,” Northport coach Rich Castellano said. “We moved the ball well against their 1-3-1 zone to avoid traps.”
Northport seemingly had more passes than dribbles on most possessions, allowing the Tigers to find soft spots in Floyd’s tough defense.
Brooke Kershow was vital in Northport’s ball movement. Normally a forward, she ran the point effectively and facilitated the ball inside to Radziul, who scored 12 points.
“Even though it’s not my normal position, I’m comfortable doing anything they need me to do,” Kershow said. “I worked on different positions the whole week and I was focused on getting the ball to our scorers.”
After being held to just two points in the second quarter, Floyd (15-7) opened the third on an 8-2 run. Then Claire Fitzpatrick got Northport back on track.
As her corner three-pointer hit nothing but net, she hit the ground and a whistle blew.
“I was making all my shots at halftime, so I was confident in my shot,” Fitzpatrick said. “I wanted to get down in the corner and hit it. I think it hyped everyone up.”
The four-point play gave Northport a 30-17 lead with 3:52 left in the third. Fitzpatrick finished with 14 points and Kershow scored 10. Jacky Sutherland led Floyd with 10 points.
Northport (21-1) heads back to the Class AA final, where its season ended in a loss last year. The Tigers will face No. 2 Whitman at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Stony Brook University.
In their only meeting this year on Jan. 9, Northport defeated Whitman, 43-36.
Said Castellano, “We couldn’t play backwards, we had to play 22 games to get back to this game and here we are.”