The first two of four girls basketball gold balls will be awarded today.
Here are my predictions for the Class AA and Class A finals at the Westchester County Center:
Class AA final
No. 1 Ossining (21-2) vs. No. 2 North Rockland (20-3), 2 p.m. — Ossining 78, North Rockland 62. The Red Raiders may very well be the team that matches up best with the five-time defending champs and could pose the biggest threat of any team to end the Pride’s 84-game winning streak against Section 1 opponents, but that remains to be seen. They haven’t faced each other this year, but this is a rematch of last year’s semifinal and both sides have plenty of returnees. Both feature exceptional freshmen forwards — Aubrey Griffin and Kailah Harris for the Pride, Jaida Patrick for the Red Raiders — and love to push the ball up the court. North Rockland’s biggest advantage comes at the point guard position, where Manhattan-bound Gabby Cajou will go head-to-head with Pride freshman Jaida Strippoli. Ossining may opt to stick senior defensive standout Gabby Ferrao on Cajou, which should even the scales in the Pride’s favor. The Red Raiders will have to find an answer for Seton Hall-bound small forward Shadeen Samuels, who can score from anywhere on the court. I think fans get an exciting final and the Pride get another gold ball.
Class A final
No. 1 Ursuline (19-4) vs. No. 3 Rye (19-4), 5 p.m. — Ursuline 54, Rye 50. If this game is anything like their regular-season tilt, fans will get every penny out of their $8 admission fee. Koalas head coach Beth Wooters expects the Garnets to be “gunning” for them after the nail-biting one-point win and that the matchup will be “exactly what it should be for a championship game.” The strength of both teams lies in the paint, with the Garnets boasting one of the most talented overall players in the section, senior Maddie Eck, and the Koalas boasting one of the most underrated players in the section, junior Katie McLoughlin. These are two defense-saavy teams that had tremendous comebacks in their semifinal games, and who are aching to end their respective gold ball droughts. The Koalas last won it all in 2003, their last season in Class A, while Rye won the Class B title in 2004.