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In the first and third quarters, Clarkstown North and Lakeland appeared to be evenly matched. The Hornets outscored the Rams by an 18-15 margin.
Then there were the other two quarters.
Clarkstown North outscored Lakeland 30-8 in the second and fourth quarters to pull out a 45-26 win in the opening round of the Carolyn Conroy Memorial Tournament on Thursday at Lakeland High School.
“We all communicated well and worked together,” said Rams senior forward Brianne Schneider, who finished with a game-high 19 points and 10 rebounds. “We’ve been practicing really hard. We just concentrated and stuck together.”
Lakeland trailed 25-10 midway through the third quarter, but went on an 11-4 run to close out the quarter. The Rams responded with a 10-2 run to start the fourth quarter. They outscored the Hornets 16-5 in the final stanza.
“We knew they were going to come out aggressive (in the third quarter),” Clarkstown North coach Kerry Sullivan said. “We said, ‘You just have to maintain your composure. Look before you put the ball on the ground and make smart passes.’”
Clarkstown North took advantage of its size inside by consistently feeding the ball to Schneider.
“We’re going to utilize our height to our advantage,” Sullivan said. “The nice thing is we do have shooters, but we didn’t have to kick it out that much today.
After a slow start, Clarkstown North (1-0) outscored Lakeland 14-3 in the second quarter to take a 19-10 lead into halftime.
“We just got more confident,” Sullivan said of the second quarter. “The jitters of the first game were off and the girls just got more comfortable.”
Rams sophomore Nikki Petri scored 10 points, grabbed six rebounds and had two steals. Freshman Erin Ryder had three points, five rebounds and three blocks. Sophomore Ashley Lew added four points and two steals, while senior Christina Graziano and sophomore Julie Trainor each had three points.
After graduating leading scorer Danielle DeStaso, an all-section player, Sullivan hopes to continue to see scoring from multiple players. Eight different players scored for the Rams.
“The girls have big shoes to fill,” Sullivan said. “What’s nice is that we have balanced scoring. If we have five girls that can score it’s hard to say ‘you have to stop this person.’”
Lakeland coach Steve Fallo was pleased with the defensive performance, but wants to see more from his offense.
“We played sound defense for four quarters,” Fallo said. “It got us back in the game. We got it down to six (in the third quarter) and then we stopped scoring. We missed a lot of free throws and really didn’t hit many jump shots. A lot of our baskets were inside. You’re not going to win like that.
“[Clarkstown North] scored when they had the opportunity and made 19 free throws. When you do that you deserve to win. They played great defense, too. They were in our face for 32 minutes. We turned the ball over at least 20 times. You can’t give a solid team all of those opportunities.”
Senior point guard Emily Alicea led Lakeland with 15 points. She netted 11 of her points in the second half. Sophomore forward Kate Weldon added four points, while Taylor Pompilio, Nikki Kardias and Ellie Dineen-Carey each had two points.
The Hornets (0-1) will look to rebound against Walter Panas in the consolation game on Saturday at 2 p.m.
“We have to have a great practice tomorrow,” Fallo said. “We shoot a lot every day in practice. Our shooting routine is 45 minutes long. Honestly, I’m disappointed with the way we shot the ball. We’re better than that.”
Clarkstown North, which finished with a 12-7 record and lost in the first round of the Section 1 Class AA playoffs last season, will square off against defending tournament champion Horace Greeley in the championship game on Saturday at 6 p.m.
“They’re aggressive and they get to the hoop,” Sullivan said of Greeley. “We just have to have patience and work through their pressure. It’ll be a tough game.”
“We just need to do what we did today — but better,” Schneider said.
Follow Rob DiAntonio on Twitter @MSGV_RJD