Defensive pressure heretofore unseen by Harpursville’s girls will be a primary challenge when the second-ranked Hornets take on top-ranked Alexander Hamilton in a Class C state basketball semifinal 12:30 Saturday at Hudson Valley Community College.
Alexander Hamilton (19-4), located in the Westchester County village of Elmsford, has permitted two state-playoff opponents a combined 39 points. Harpursville has scored at a 58-per-game clip since the onset of Section 4 tournament play.
The winner moves on the final, scheduled for 1:45 Sunday, against either Bishop Kearney (Rochester) or AuSable Valley (Clintonville, near Plattsburgh).
“They do throw a lot of pressure at you,” Harpursville coach Kurt Ehrensbeck said of the Red Raiders, champion of Section 1. “They harass you pretty good. They run a bunch of different looks, get their hands on a lot of passes.”
And backstopping the Raiders’ defense is 6-foot Kali Gill.
Hamilton rolled past Friends Academy (Westhampton), 59-25, in the quarterfinal round. The game before brought a 27-14 win over Section 9 champion Tuxedo (Rockland County), despite the winners’ 4-for-35 first-half shooting.
Backcourt mates Tiffany Corselli and Jasmine Robinson teamed for 53 points in the quarterfinal, Corselli’s outing featuring four 3-point goals after halftime.
Hamilton closed the 2011-12 season with an 18-3 record and No. 5 state ranking.
Harpursville (19-3) knocked off Section 3 champion Cooperstown in the quarterfinals, 45-43, on the strength of a 26-point afternoon from junior forward Miranda Drummond that featured a go-ahead 3-pointer in the final minute.
The Hornets are off to the final four for second time in three seasons. The 2010-11 squad closed a 23-2 season with a 10-point loss to Gananda in the final, that following an 18-point semifinal dismissal of Haldane.
As notable as any of Hamilton’s 19 wins was the outcome in one of its losses. The Red Raiders played Ossining to an 88-79 game in mid-January. Ossining and UConn-bound ace Saniya Chong have reached the Class AA semifinals.
“We’ve had to beat four state-ranked teams to get where we are (Unadilla Valley, Elmira Notre Dame, Unatego and Cooperstown), so I don’t think we’ll be fazed by it,” Ehrensbeck said.