Baldwin’s drive for an eighth consecutive Nassau Class AA girls’ basketball title must wait another year since the county announced a condensed season will commence after eight games with no playoffs.
“We were thrilled to hear we’re having a season, but it’s a little disappointing there’s no championship to play for,” Lady Bruins head coach Tom Catapano said. “Getting back to what we love to do and being together as a team is great though. We had three months of intramurals and I kept telling the girls to stay ready in case we received good news.”
Baldwin was considered a slight underdog last March 8 when it defeated top-seeded Syosset, 60-52, at Nassau Coliseum to keep the crown. The pandemic canceled a much-anticipated matchup with Northport for the Long Island Class AA title.
A pair of All-County selections return for Catapano. Senior Nayeli Dowding is a strong wing who worked hard during the offseason to improve her moves to the rim to go with a strong mid-range game. She’s a captain and one of the more experienced players on the roster. Forward Dallysshya Moreno is a sophomore with all the tools and the ability to post double digits in points and rebounds every game. She had 27 points to lead a season-opening victory over Farmingdale on Feb. 13.
Senior guard Layla Elor brought tremendous energy off the bench last season and is doing the same in a starting role, Catapano noted. Elor was clutch throughout the playoff run and is one of the team’s hardest workers and better defenders. Senior Shania Iglesias is running the offense from the point guard spot and is an accurate passer with improved perimeter shooting.
“We just want to be the best version we can be for the month we have to play,” Catapano said.
The last time Baldwin’s boys’ hoopsters played, it won the Nassau Class AA championship in dramatic fashion over Uniondale, 64-63, the same night the Lady Bruins triumphed.
There’s a ton of new faces comprising this season’s group, head coach Darius Burton said, including eight seniors led by Joshua Minton, Jasigha Barnes and Milan Johnson. Baldwin split its first two games, falling at Plainview on Feb. 11 and beating Farmingdale two days later.
“We’re looking at all the positives about playing,” Burton said. “Of course we wanted a chance to win back-to-back [county titles] but I told the guys just to enjoy doing what they love and try to get better every day.”
Minton, a guard/forward combo, totaled 26 points over the first two games and can score in a variety of ways. Barnes, a guard who played the previous two seasons at Lawrence Woodmere Academy, pumped in 22 points in the opener against Plainview. Johnson, a transfer from Comsewogue in Suffolk County, is a solid two-way player who runs the offense from the point.