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Rocks Sports

Lady Rocks roll

Posted Wednesday, March 30, 2005 by Karin Leary
East Rockaway girls' basketball earns spot in state Final Four

The same foe, the same stakes, a different result.

The East Rockaway Rocks defeated Haldane (Section I-Westchester), 53-45, to win the New York State Southeast Regional Class C girls' basketball championship at the Hofstra University Arena last Saturday. The victory avenged the Rocks' loss to Haldane in the 2004 title game and earned them a spot in this weekend's Class C Final Four, in Troy, for the second time in three years.
The Rocks started slowly, and trailed 14-7 after one quarter, as the Devils held East Rockaway's leading scorer, Meredith Levison, without a single point for the first eight minutes. From that point on, however, it was all Levison and the Rocks.
Early in the second quarter, a hard foul sent Levison to the floor, but the knock only appeared to rile her up. "I looked at the fire in her eyes and knew right then that nobody was going to stop her," East Rockaway assistant coach Tim O'Hagan said. "From that point on, she took the game over."
Levison (28 points, seven assists) drove hard to the basket on the next possession for her first two points, hit a three-pointer the next time down the floor, and ended up scoring 10 of the Rocks' 14 second-quarter points. At halftime, East Rockaway trailed the Devils by two, 23-21.
The halftime speech was simple: "We let them know they were playing well and to just keep playing their game," East Rockaway head coach Karin Leary said. "The expressions on their faces told me that they were confident that things would go our way in the second half."
The Rocks started backup point guard Courtney Harris in the second half, which proved to be a brilliant move. Harris not only played intense defense, but also added quickness to the offense, which opened up the floor for the scorers. "We really don't look at Courtney as a backup," Leary said. "Jackie [Marinazzo] is our starter, but the team has equal confidence in both girls. Courtney was outstanding."
The third quarter also brought out the best in freshman forward Kelli Hughes. With the game tied, Hughes (11 points, four steals) scored the team's final nine points of the quarter, turning a 29-29 tie into a 38-31 lead at the end of three.
The final eight minutes belonged to Levison. Haldane (21-4), which entered the game riding a 15-game winning streak, had no answer for the 5-foot-9 junior guard. Levison scored 13 points in the quarter, none more important than the three-pointer she nailed with just 47 seconds remaining. With the Rocks holding a three-point lead and the shot clock down to three seconds, Levison released an off-balance shot from the right corner that hit nothing but net.
The Devils, led by freshman sensation Brittany Shields (16 points, eight rebounds), made a valiant effort to battle back, but a costly mistake by head coach Andy Cameron, who called a time-out after he had exhausted his allotment, led to a technical foul and gave the Rocks possession of the ball. A few moments later, the Rocks were celebrating at center court.
East Rockaway (21-2) will take on Section IV-Binghamton champion Seton Catholic Central (14-7) on Saturday at 2:15 p.m. at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy. The winner will play for the state championship on Sunday afternoon at 1:45.

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