Syosset wins the Nassau Class AAA girls basketball final against...

Syosset wins the Nassau Class AAA girls basketball final against Baldwin at Farmingdale State College on Saturday. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

It’s Syosset’s time.

Baldwin’s final three-point shot was off the mark and the Syosset girls basketball team put an end to one of Nassau’s longest girls basketball dynasties.

Syosset’s Kate Nelmes dribbled out the final few seconds of the Nassau Class AAA championship Saturday and the celebration was on.

Syosset’s swarming pressure defense and clutch free throw shooting in the final minute gave them a 49-44 win over the nine-time defending champion from Baldwin at Farmingdale State.


“Finally,” Syosset coach Mike Ferreira said after his team held off a feverish fourth-quarter run by Baldwin. “We’ve been close for a number of years. This is a testament to all the girls in our alumni that played here previously and believed in our program. These girls followed the path carved by the success of the players before them. We all share in this title against a great Baldwin program. But really — it’s about time.”

Syosset (18-6) will play for the Long Island Championship March 10 at 5 p.m. at Farmingdale State. They'll face either Whitman or Commack, who play Sunday for the Suffok Class AAA title.

Senior Carly Greenbaum and sophomore Samantha Schneider each hit two free throws after Baldwin climbed within 45-43 with 54 seconds left. Payton Dulin’s driving layup and ensuing free throws got the Bruins within two.

“Our girls were unfazed by the pressure and they knew what was at stake,” Ferreira said. “This was a very physical game, and the refs did a good job of letting the teams play.”

Both teams played pressure defense and swarmed the ball. Nelmes was the general of a Syosset offense that continually pushed the ball down the floor and broke the press. Long passes over the top of the defense enabled Syosset to maintain the lead throughout the final three quarters. Baldwin led by a point on two occasions in the first quarter but played catch-up through a frenetic final three quarters.

“Syosset has been knocking on the door for five years and you have to tip your cap to them,” Baldwin coach Tom Catapano said. “They jumped out to a big lead, we got back in the game and then they made some big plays over the top of our defense. It wasn’t our night — it was theirs.

Baldwin was held scoreless through the first four minutes of the game but it took a long three-pointer from Schneider just before time expired in the first quarter to give Syosset a 9-7 lead. That shot ignited a 20-2 run through the second quarter and a 26-9 Syosset lead.

“We were pushing the ball down the floor and communicating very well,” Nelmes said. “They’re very aggressive and we kept finding the open player.”

Nelmes and Olivia Mallor sandwiched threes around a Dulin layup to open the second quarter. Schneider hit a running lefthanded layup to make it 17-9 with 5:57 left in the half and Syosset was on its way. They scored the next nine points keyed by a Greenbaum three-point play for the 26-9 advantage.

“I’m really proud of our team because you knew Baldwin was going to make a run and try to get back in it,” Ferreira said. “And we were going to have to find a way and respond.”

Baldwin went on a 16-0 run as five different players scored to get within 26-25. Greenbaum nailed a three-pointer as time expired in the half for the 29-25 lead.

“She’s always clutch for us,” Nelmes said. “We all did our part today. We rely on each other and we’re a very athletic team. We finally broke Baldwin’s streak.”

Nelmes helped spread the wealth in the Syosset offense. Schneider finished with 15 points, Greenbaum had 13 and Olivia Mallor added 11.

“Kate is the engine that makes our offense run,” Ferreira said. “And she plays great defense and covers the opponent’s top player.”

There were plenty of key moments and contributors for a Syosset team that needed all of them to take out the champ.

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