Less than 24 hours before yesterday's game, Katie Durand was unsure how much she would play. The Cold Spring Harbor junior was cleared to practice on Friday after missing seven games with mononucleosis.
"Before practice [Friday] I would have thought that I wasn't going to start and only play a little bit," Durand said. "After practice [Friday] I felt really good, so I was confident in starting [Saturday]."
Durand had 12 points, four assists and four steals in her first game action since Jan. 17, and Jean Atkinson added 18 points to lead No. 1 Cold Spring Harbor over No. 4 Wheatley 56-47 in a Nassau Class B girls basketball semifinal at Port Washington. Cold Spring Harbor (16-2), the defending county champion, advances to the final to play No. 3 Locust Valley (13-5) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at LIU Post.
"Especially as a senior I'm really looking forward to the county final and to hopefully repeat last year and make it to Long Island's," said Atkinson, who added four rebounds.
The Seahawks dominated play from the tip as five players scored in a 12-4 first quarter. They opened the gap to 23-11 at halftime with Durand and Atkinson each scoring six points in the first half.
"I didn't even think I'd play her. Then when I saw her practice I thought, 'maybe I won't start her' and I end up playing her the majority of the game," Cold Spring Harbor coach Rory Malone said of his starting point guard. "She's our engine and she calms us down when we need to calm down. She's our energy when we need to get going. Just having her out there gave our team a huge lift."
Kelly Gubitosi added 11 points and 10 rebounds for Cold Spring Harbor, which had a 41-19 lead after the third.
"All year we've been a team that other people are the go-to guy," Malone said. "Jean Atkinson this year when we've had tough games it seems like she's always the one leading us. She's a scoring threat, she's a defensive stopper, she does it all for us."
Malone tried to rest his starters late in the third and Wheatley (8-10) took advantage, opening the fourth quarter with a 9-0 run to make the score 41-28. Olivia McCracken had 12 points for the Wildcats, who cut the deficit to 48-39 with 1:55 to play but would never get closer than nine points.
With a full week to continue her recovery, Durand will have the Seahawks poised to defend their crown. "The worst part was the disappointment of not being able to play half the season but I'm back for playoffs so that's great," Durand said. "Feels like I never left."