WHITE PLAINS – Following a Section 1 Class C semifinal win Tuesday, Haldane head coach Tyrone Searight said he would not take Hamilton lightly in the final Saturday at the Westchester County Center. Had he been thinking differently, things may not have turned out in the Blue Devils’ favor.
Top-seeded Haldane survived a physical battle against the third-seeded Red Raiders, 47-39, to come away with its fourth consecutive gold ball. Haldane will now get its long-awaited rematch with Section 9 champion Pine Plains in the state regional semifinals.
The Blue Devils (17-5) will take on the 2016 state finalists, who ended their season last year, Tuesday at SUNY New Paltz at 5 p.m.
Haldane senior guard Missy Lisikatos did not play after re-injuring her knee Tuesday. Freshman Olivia McDermott started in her place, and did not waste the opportunity to step up in the biggest game of her young career.
“I was really excited,” McDermott, who scored 10 points in the win, said of the start. “We were determined to win, even without one of our most valuable players.”
Junior forward Allison Chiera was named tournament MVP for the second straight year after scoring a team-high 11 points in the finale. Senior guard Hannah Monteleone joined her teammate on the all-tournament team.
Hamilton’s Nina Gill and Miranda Signor represented the Red Raiders on the all-tournament squad. Pawling senior Mackenzie Meissner and North Salem sophomore Grace Curran rounded out the team.
Player of the game: Allison Chiera, Haldane. While some players freeze up under the County Center lights, Chiera always seems to turn her game up another notch on the big stage.
Turning point: Hamilton had been gaining steam up until McDermott’s 3-pointer with 4:38 left in the game, which made it a seven-point game. The Red Raiders scored just one point the rest of the way.
Stat line: Haldane had a balanced offensive attack in the win. The Blue Devils had eight different scorers, five of which scored at least five points. Even though Hamilton had six different scorers, Gill scored a game-high 23 points.
Haldane got to the free-throw line with regularity and greater success Saturday, shooting 13-for-21 from the charity stripe. Hamilton was just 4-for-13 at the line.
Quotable: “When we lost last year, that’s all I was thinking about,” Searight said of the season-ending loss to Pine Plains. “This is all I asked for. We want a shot at them.”
Mike Zacchio writes for the Journal News in Westchester County. He can be reached via email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Zacchio_LoHud.