The Our Lady of Lourdes High School girls basketball team earned a return trip to the Westchester County Center on Wednesday by defeating No. 7 Clarkstown South, 45-40, in the Section 1 Class AA quarterfinals.
No. 2 Lourdes will face No. 6 New Rochelle on Thursday in White Plains.
The Warriors’ backcourt of junior Paige Decker and sophomore Emily Ferreri combined for 28 points.
Trailing 10-7 after the first quarter, Lourdes (18-2) turned it on in the second to take control of the game.
“We just knew that losing wasn’t what we wanted to do,” Ferreri said. “So we all picked it up and played as hard as we could. We got to the basket and played pressure defense.”
The Warriors went on an 8-0 run early in the second quarter that included a Ferreri (15 points) runner off the glass that gave them a 13-12 lead with 5:57 left in the period. When Ferreri found sophomore forward Chloe Weeks for a layup with 2:19 to go in the half, Lourdes suddenly led 17-12 and the tide had turned.
Decker (13 points) then scored with only five seconds left in the half to give Lourdes a 21-14 lead at the midpoint.
Lourdes coach Al Viani said it was his team’s will to get to the basket that turned things around.
“Our defense was real good, but offensively we were struggling,” he said. “This is a very good defensive team. We knew that coming in, they’re very fundamentally sound, and we were able to get some looks at the basket in the second quarter. We attacked the basket a little bit more and that was probably our strongest quarter of the game, turning a three-point deficit to a seven-point lead. I have to credit the girls for being aggressive going to the basket that quarter.”
A putback from senior forward Nora McElduff (8 points) with 35 seconds left in the third quarter gave Lourdes a 35-26 lead heading into the fourth.
Clarkstown South slowly chipped away at the Lourdes advantage, and two free throws from junior Laura Castaldo (15 points) cut the lead to 40-37 with 38.7 seconds left on the clock. But after being fouled at midcourt, Ferreri effectively sealed the win with two freebies of her own to make it 42-37 with 30.1 left.
“Everybody played hard and contributed,” she said. “We played strong defense and we all played our roles. We took good shots and played together.”
Lourdes reached the sectional finals a year ago, before falling short to Ossining.
“It’s the second year we’re making it to the County Center, and that’s so exciting,” Ferreri said. “We’re just going to go in and give it everything we’ve got. Hopefully we’ll keep going as far as we can.”