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North Shore holds off Floral Park, 61-54
Jay Mumford

If you told North Shore Head Coach Keith Freund that his team would shoot 4 of 16 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter of a tight game and still leave the gym with a seven point win, he wouldn’t believe a word of what you said.

“Absolutely not,” he said after the game. Then he thought about it. “But then again, I have confidence in this team. I knew if we had a lead [late in the game] we’d be able to hold on.”

Though free throws were a rare commodity for the Lady Vikings during crunch time, they used a little bit of everything else to stave off a feisty Floral Park squad that made the game an intense one throughout. With Floral Park up 29-28 at half time, they came out smoking in the third quarter behind the spirited inside play of freshman forward, Lorraine Hickman (14 points). It wouldn’t be long before eight grade point guard, Kaela Hilaire, used her speed to slice into North Shore’s defense and sophomore Valerie Fox drained a triple to cement the youthful threat Floral Park posed and give their team a ten point lead, 42-32. North Shore’s fluidity was hampered by travel calls, assorted turnovers, and struggles on the boards in spite of their size and experience advantages. But senior leaders don’t panic under pressure.

“We had a team talk [after the third quarter],” said senior guard, Amanda Johansen. “The score didn’t matter, we just had to push ourselves.”

Coach Freund agreed with that sentiment: “I knew if we worked together, we could wear Floral Park down. I give [Floral Park] all the credit in the world, but I’m confident that we can go twelve deep and keep fresh legs on the floor.”

Johansen answered the call immediately. The athletic, 5’11” guard zipped the ball through traffic and knocked down shots, none bigger than a three pointer that gave the Lady Vikings the lead for good.

“Amanda is a gamer,” said Coach Freund of Johansen, who scored a game high 19 points. “She doesn’t shoot many threes, but every one she hits is huge.”

It just would’ve been easier had Johansen and her teammates been able to inch the game away the easy way - from the free throw line.

“I normally [wouldn’t think a team could win] missing free throws like that,” admitted Johansen, who struggled from the stripe in the fourth quarter, but scored the seven crucial points from the field that were instrumental in putting Floral Park away. “But I knew we could win because we never give up.”

That relentlessness and will to win extended to other areas of the court and compensated for the stripe struggles. Astute play on both sides of the ball from freshman Alexandra Cantwell (13 points) and a key bucket from junior Erin Sheerin (10 points) helped ice the win. Hilaire (who scored a team high 15 points) put up a fight for Floral Park, but late game mistakes and Hickman fouling out cemented the deal. Next order of business: Garden City. Johansen and Co. are ready for the challenge.

“We want a championship so bad,” said Johansen, who will be attending USC for lacrosse in the fall. “I knew all along that this would be our year and we could go far.”

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