Alex Baldini and Floral Park's girls basketball team are used to playing rival North Shore but aren't used to beating the Vikings. They swept Floral Park in conference play the past five seasons and beat the Knights in last year's Nassau Class A semifinal.
But Baldini was ready for that to change. The senior had a team-high 12 points and Lorraine Hickman added 11 as No. 4 Floral Park held off a second-half rally to upset No. 1 North Shore, 48-44, Tuesday night in a Nassau Class A semifinal at Freeport.
Floral Park (15-4) will play Garden City in the final Saturday at LIU Post. North Shore finished 18-2.
"Baldini played the game of her life tonight," Floral Park coach Mike Spina said. "We told her before the game that she would have to be tremendous for us, and she was."
Added Baldini: "It's a great opportunity for us, especially in my final year."
Floral Park led by only three entering the fourth quarter after being up 27-15 at halftime. The Knights stayed ahead by breaking down the Vikings' intense defensive pressure with crisp ball movement. Twice in the fourth, Floral Park swung the ball around the horn, avoiding traps, to convert easy layups with the shot clock expiring. Lindsey Tanalski's layup made it 43-38 with 2:32 left, and Baldini's finish made it 45-38 with 1:27 to play.
Valerie Fox and Jeanna Orfanos (10 points) hit key free throws to seal it, including Fox's that made it 48-44 with 14.6 seconds to play. "I was just thinking concentrate, and if it doesn't go in, we have to play tough defense," Orfanos said. "But those were big free throws."
Section VIII suspended two of North Shore's top players for the game because of an on-court incident in a quarterfinal against South Side last Wednesday, according to North Shore coach Keith Freund.
"They were suspended, but I defend the actions of both of those girls,'' Freund said. "It was an unfortunate incident."