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Townsend Harris falls short of pulling upset

The Townsend Harris girls’ basketball team barely missed the PSAL postseason last year, making their appearance this season a memorable achievement. How they exited the playoffs will not be forgotten soon, either.

The Hawks dropped an overtime thriller to the Curtis Warriors, 68-62, at Elmcor Monday. Curtis (19-6), which stormed through the Staten Island ‘A’ division, reached the quarterfinals for the first time. But it almost didn’t happen after the Warriors blew a 15-point lead in the fourth.

Townsend Harris’ Shanay Freeman raced the length of the court to score the game-tying basket as time expired to cap a tremendous comeback. Freeman, a promising sophomore, scored a team-high 18 points. She showed heart in overtime, scoring six points despite battling leg camps.

The Hawks (20-5) climbed back in the game with an 18-3 run in the period. Jessica Sharoff aided the comeback with a coast-to-coast drive and three-pointer. Kristina Casper scored three field goals in the paint, the last one giving the Hawks a 52-51 lead at 1:24.

“I thought we were going to pull it out,” Freeman said. “We’ll come back next season stronger and better to give teams a run for their money.”

The Warriors had a couple of opportunities to put the game away, but missed the front ends of two one-and-one free throw opportunities.

Acasha Gordon, who finished with 16 points, fouled out with 17 seconds remaining in regulation to make matters worse for Curtis.

After falling apart in the fourth quarter, the Warriors regrouped to score the first five points of overtime. Talia Sutton started the extra session with a short jumper and added four free throws in the period. She finished with a game-high 25 points. Stacey Staniland scored five points in overtime before fouling out in the final minute.

“It was deflating,” Curtis coach Dorothy Guerriero said of Freeman’s buzzer-beater. “You still have to finish the game. We were able to stick it out.”

The Hawks did themselves in during the overtime. They failed to grab rebounds and missed six critical free throws. The Hawks also missed Sharoff, who fouled out early in the extra period.

“We weren’t able to rebound or make free throws when we needed them,” Townsend Harris coach Larry Ceraulo said. “I’m still very happy with the season.”

Sutton scored her team’s first eight points of the game, as the Warriors claimed a 10-9 lead after an uneventful first quarter. The Hawks managed only one field goal in the first, but hit 7-of-8 free throws to stay close. Sutton’s fast start masked the early struggles of leading scorer Staniland, who scored her first basket of the game as the half expired.

“We came together,” Sutton said. “I was a little tired at the end of the game, but my teammates picked me up.”

Four different players connected on three-pointers in the third quarter for Curtis, as the Warriors extended a six-point lead to 47-34 by the end of the third. Andrea Strauss prevented the Hawks from being blown off the court. She scored 10 points in the quarter, including a lay-up and free throw off a scramble for the ball in the final seconds.

Top-seeded Francis Lewis (25-3) overpowered Paul Robeson, 71-50, in the second game of Monday’s doubleheader. The game amounted to a tune-up for the Patriots, who will play Curtis in the quarterfinals at Lehman College Saturday.

Keisha Green hit a jumper and three-pointer to give Robeson a 5-0 lead, but it was all downhill the rest of the way. The Eagles had trouble with the simplest of plays, such as in-bounding the ball after made baskets by Francis Lewis. The Patriots put on a clinic in the first, outscoring the Eagles 18-1 as Curtis scouted the game from the stands.

Teresa Rozza fueled the offense with terrific ball movement and Maria Miaoulis was accurate from the outside as the Patriots pulled away. The Patriots bench received major minutes and contributed, too. Miaoulis had team-high 20 points and Rozza scored 13 before the starters rested down the stretch.

The Eagles, down by as many as 38 points, showed heart by closing the game on a 15-4 run. Green was the only real threat on an inexperienced team. She scored a game-high 22 points.

John Adams 50, Beach Channel 45. Nicole Moore and Francesca Romano each scored 12 points and Aisha Cardozo added eight points and 10 rebounds for the Spartans (21-4) in the PSAL ‘B’ second-round win Monday.

Grand Street Campus 71, Van Buren 68. Shatasia Little (23 points, 20 rebounds) and Monet Johnson (20 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists) led Grand Street Campus (21-4), which rallied from a 15-point third quarter deficit. Van Buren finishes at 19-6.

Reach contributing writer Adam Martini by e-mail by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

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