By Phil Terrigno
Who is this player?
The slight figure with a bun pulled tightly on top of her head and a dazzling array of crossover moves wasn’t a familiar face to fans who watched Hamilton capture last year’s Section 1 Class C crown.
A senior transfer in her first season with the Red Raiders, Tiffany Corselli entered the basketball landscape with a quiet introduction but will conclude this season after cementing herself as one of the area’s premier point guards.
“She probably needed an encouraging coach like me that’s used to helping kids get better and grow their skills,” Hamilton coach Benjamin Carter said. “We were a blessing for one another.”
Corselli spent her freshman season at Palisade Prep and her sophomore and junior seasons at Sacred Heart before transferring to Hamilton this year once her family moved to Elmsford from Yonkers.
“I learned about different coaching styles,” Corselli said. “One program may be different from another. That has helped me with my maturing process and I think it has helped me to recognize negative and positive criticisms to keep building my game.”
Hamilton demonstrated its pedigree in a tight nine-point loss to Class AA power Ossining but the Red Raiders road to the state final four has been a struggle late in the year.
Corselli went from being able to dish the ball to multiple offensive options to directing a Hamilton squad hampered by the loss of standout Maia Hood to a February ACL tear.
“In the beginning, I knew that I had to step up a little bit because (Maia’s injury) took away a lot of scoring,” Corselli said. “I took it as a time to build up other girls. Other teams didn’t key on them as much and it was a time to prove that this is not a two-man or three-man team.”
Soon after, Corselli was hobbled by an ankle injury and Hamilton dropped its final three regular season contests, raising the question of whether or not the squad would succeed in the playoffs.
“When me and Tiffany went down, everyone was bummed about my injury because they knew I wasn’t playing anymore,” Hood said. “When Tiffany came back, they knew they had a goal.”
After reeling off four straight postseason wins, the Red Raiders are two games removed from realizing their goal of winning Hamilton’s first ever state title.
“This would be a great opportunity to prove to everyone that we can be compared with Ossining and Irvington,” Corselli said. “We deserved it and earned it.”
NYSPHSAA Class C semifinal:
Who: Hamilton (18-4) vs. Harpursville (19-3)
When: Saturday, March 16 at 12:30 p.m.
Where: Hudson Valley Community College, Troy, N.Y.
Top players on Hamilton: Tiffany Corselli, Sr., G; Kali Gill, Sr., F; Jasmine Robinson, Sr., G.
Top players on Harpursville: Miranda Drummond, Jr., G, 22.2 PPG; Savannah Murray, Sr., PG, 15.7 PPG.
Outlook: Hamilton has not allowed more than 40 points in a game this postseason, and held both of its opponents in regional play to within 25 points. Harpursville has been just as stoic on defense, holding its opponents this season to just over 32 points per game. The Red Raiders reclaimed the top ranking in Class C for the first time since Feb. 4, while their opponents hold the No. 2 spot.
What’s next: The winner of this game will face either Section 7’s AuSable Valley (20-3) or Section 5’s Bishop Kearney (17-8) in the state championship on Sunday at 1:45 p.m. Hamilton, Harpursville, AuSable Valley, and Bishop Kearney are the top four ranked team in Class C, respectively.