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Rocks Sports

Rocks seniors pound way back to Final Four

Posted Sunday, March 12, 2006 by Karin Leary

Nine first-quarter steals. Forcing 11 first-quarter turnovers. Allowing zero first-quarter field goals. The list goes on, and does, but in the end the most striking statistic was the one that matters most.

Playing a nearly flawless first 12 minutes, the East Rockaway girls basketball team pounded Millbrook (Section IX), 66-36, yesterday in a Class C Southeast Regional final at Pace University. East Rockaway (18-4) advances to the state Final Four for the third time in four seasons and will play Brushton-Moira (X) at 2:15 p.m. Saturday at Hudson Valley CC.

For East Rockaway's eight seniors, it is a chance to finish what they started in their freshman year, when they were state runners-up. After losing in regional play to Haldane (I) their sophomore season, the Rocks went to states last season but lost in a semifinal.

"We came out with a sense of urgency today," said senior forward Brittany Fuller, who nearly recorded a quadruple-double with a game-best 21 points, 14 rebounds, nine blocks and eight steals. "We didn't know as much about this team as the others we've faced in this game and then we knew this was for states, which raised our intensity even more."

Millbrook (16-8) looked nothing like the team that upset Haldane, which East Rockaway had played the previous three years in this game.

East Rockaway led 20-2 after the first quarter and, after Sarah D'Archangelis finished a fast break, led 37-7 with 3:29 left in the first half.

"This group knew they would not be making the trip upstate if they lost today and that was huge for them," East Rockaway coach Karin Leary said. "They knew this could be it and they were not going to let that happen. They know where they want to go."

Senior guard Meredith Levison added 19 points and three steals and sophomore forward Kelli Hughes continued her strong second half of the season with 15 points, two blocks and three steals. East Rockaway recorded 20 steals, led by Fuller and senior guard Courtney Harris, who had four.

"We're looking forward to going back," Levison said of the state tournament. "It means a lot. Hopefully this time we can bring back the state championship."

Two more games like yesterday would just about make that a certainty.

Saturday

State Class C semifinal

East Rockaway

vs. Brushton-Moira (X)

2:15 p.m. at Hudson Valley CC

EAST ROCKAWAY 66

MILLBROOK 36

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