POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – If you look up the word “dynasty” in the dictionary, Our Lady of Lourdes basketball may be the definition you find.
The Lady Warriors have 10 state championships and won 15 straight Section 1 title from 1992-2006. The titles ended there, however. Since being moved up to Class AA, and going through a couple coaching changes, the Lady Warriors have only made one appearance (2008) at the Westchester County Center.
Our Lady of Lourdes is back.
Freshman Emily Ferreri scored 18 of her 23 points in the first half as the No. 3 Lady Warriors blitzed No. 11 New Rochelle 67-29 in the Class AA quarterfinals.
“This is an amazing feeling, we never expected to get this far this season,” said Ferreri, who added nine rebounds and four assists. “We have a storied history, but we’re a young team. This is exciting for us.”
Lourdes leading scorer Paige Decker faced a box-and-one defense from New Rochelle to start the game which opened things up for her freshman teammate. Ferreri found space to drive to the basket at will during the opening minutes and made the Huguenots pay.
“I’m not sure they even knew who she was because they didn’t do anything with her,” coach Al Viani said. “She sliced them up off the dribble and hit open shots. We were happy to take what they gave us in that first half.”
Ferreri’s offensive output forced New Rochelle into a man-to-man which opened things up for Decker who finished with 20 points and seven rebounds.
“This was one of the most exciting nights of my life,” Decker said. “We did this for our lone senior, Kristyn Horan, and we’re so happy to get such a big victory.”
Lourdes was in complete control after the first quarter and led 43-12 by halftime, but New Rochelle played well in the third quarter led by a tough press. Mary Miceli was New Rochelle’s leading scorer with 12 points. The Huguenots’ inability to secure offensive rebounds hurt their chances of staying in the game early on. Lourdes dominated the rebounding battle 43-21, an unheard of disparity.
“(Coach Viani) is a really good coach,” Decker said. “He prepares us so well and works so hard to have us prepared fundamentally.”
The trip to the semifinals is a nice accomplishment for Lourdes’ second-year head coach, Viani, although it’s not his first trip to the dance. He’s the father of the famed Viani sisters who led Lourdes to state championships in the early 2000s.
“To be honest with you, this wasn’t something we expected this year,” Viani said. “We’re a young team and we didn’t know what to expect. We told ourselves we’d be ecstatic if we got this far and we are.”
Lourdes will face No. 10 Carmel in the Westchester County Center on Thursday March 1 in the Class AA semifinals.
“We’re happy to be going to the County Center,” Ferreri said. “But anything can happen and we’re playing to win.”
Anything less than that would be unexpected from Lourdes basketball.
Email John Malone at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @MSGV_Malone