C-NS girls edge Albany, return to state final four

Free throws key Northstars' 51-49 win over Falcons

— Then the Northstars hit a drought, going more than six minutes without a field goal. That gave the Falcons time to regroup and start out on a 19-6 run that stretched deep into the third quarter.

"We got complacent with a lead, and that was a mistake," said Timpano.

Smith put it another way. "We stopped attacking and posting, and they (Albany) made adjustments," he said.

The adjustments included more work for the guard tandem of Emia Willingham-Hurst and Ayanna Hunter, who found success driving through C-NS's defenses for key baskets throughout the second half.

What saved C-NS was the Falcons getting too aggressive on defense, which led to a series of fouls in the fourth quarter. Seven times, either Timpano or Bowles went to the line. Every time, they made the shots, 14 in a row before Gannett missed a pair in the final minute.

Even though the Northstars had not faced any sort of late-game pressure in the post-season to this point, Timpano said they were ready for it because they had practiced these scenarios often.

"We just had to stay calm and get the job done," she said

Albany, who never led, kept in it right to the end, as Willingham-Hurst hit a runner with 3.0 seconds left, cutting C-NS's 51-47 lead to two. And its defense forced one more chance, but the Northstars turned it away, assuring that the dream of a third consecutive state title remained alive for another weekend.

Friday night's state semifinal at Troy's Hudson Valley Community College brings the season full-circle as C-NS gets to face Gates-Chili (Section V) - the very same team that smashed the Northstars 61-33 in the season opener on Dec. 8.

"We're out to make sure that that doesn't happen again," said Timpano. "We're a completely different team now."

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