Here’s Nancy Haggerty’s game story from North Rockland’s win over Lakeland:
SHRUB OAK — There’s a reason the North Rockland girls basketball team spends a good chunk of time practicing free throws.
Wednesday was a prime example.
The Red Raiders jumped out to an 11-point first-half lead over host Lakeland, courtesy of 17 foul shots, and went on to post a 63-53 win.
The Hornets made a late run, drawing to within four on Jordyn Cotino’s baseline 3-pointer with 2:40 left.
But Gabby Cajou (pictured below, 5), who played bigger than both her five points and reported 5-4 height, pulled in an offensive rebound, then immediately hit for two to give the Red Raiders some breathing room.
“Gabby will play with heart,” said North Rockland coach Kevin Metcalf, who added Cajou’s still learning the game. “She’s a tremendous competitor.”
North Rockland’s star of the game, though, was Ciera Rivera, who followed Cajou’s offensive-board conversion with one of her own to put her now 2-1 squad up 61-53 with 1:51 left.
Rivera, who had a game-high 21 points, then buried a 3 with 1:33 remaining to essentially put the game away. Lakeland subsequently lost 6-foot center Kate Weldon (eight points but a huge defensive presence) and Danielle Stabile (two points) to fouls.
Ellie Dineen-Carey, who was able to drive inside multiple times, finished with 16 to lead Lakeland.
Rivera credited her squad’s win to its defense, but Metcalf seemed particularly happy with her offensive effort.
“Ciera was our heart and soul tonight,” Metcalf said. “She was able to manage her fouls and went to the basket a little stronger. She’s grown into her role of captain.”
All photos were taken by Matthew Brown of The Journal News. Click here to view Matthew’s entire photo gallery. Here’s a quick video recap from the game, including an interview with Rivera: