- Last Updated: 3:16 AM, March 12, 2012
- Posted: 1:22 AM, March 12, 2012
Kristen Olsen wants to give something back to the school that welcomed her and many of her teammates with open arms.
“Since it’s a new school it feels good to win and come into a new school and just play like we know how to and try to win,” Olsen said.
The junior guard was one of five players to transfer to Curtis after St. Peter’s closed last June and join legendary former Eagles coach Bob Daggett. While the young group with little varsity experience was unable to wrestle the PSAL Staten Island A crown away from McKee/Staten Island Tech, it is a now a win away from bringing a different title home to Curtis.
The second-seeded Warriors ended the Cinderella run of No. 38 Bayside, 80-43, in the PSAL Class A girls basketball semifinals Sunday at Hunter College. Curtis returns to the title game for the second straight season to face top-seeded Leon Goldstein at CCNY next Sunday. It’s a very different group from the squad that lost to Wings last season, with just Danielle Santucci and the injured Karisa Crawford returning.
“It’s taken a little bit of time,” Daggett said. … “We have a pretty young team. Everyone was saying I brought these kids from St. Peter’s. They weren’t varsity players. They were JV players. It’s a different level of play. I didn’t coach them when they were JV players.”
Olsen, the lone St. Peter's transfer with varsity experience. was the catalyst against Bayside. The junior scored 17 of her 27 points in the first half and connected on four 3-pointers. Jessica Rosalbo had 13 points and Notre Dame Academy transfer Shannon McGill added 11 for the Warriors. Bayside was within 31-18 with 3:53 left in the first half, but Curtis used a 2-2-1 press to push the advantage to 42-22 at the half.
“It was good to see her make a couple early,” Daggett said of Olsen. “It’s certainly helps us a lot.”
He warned his team that Bayside, which beat defending champion Wings in the quarterfinals, has become known for second-half comebacks.
The Commodores got an emotional lift after the break as coach Steve Piorkowski arrived in a neck brace and wheelchair and slapped all of the players hands as he was wheeled behind the bench. He left the team in late January after being diagnosed with plasmacytoma in his neck, a form of cancer that ate away at the bone marrow in his CG vertebra that has left him with a broken neck.
“These guys inspire me with their play,” Piorkowski said. “I got a bad break and I’m battling my way through it. For me, things are going really well. When you’re an underdog and you get a 38th seed and you just keep riding to the top, it’s just a matter of confidence.”
Senior forward Ashley Mitchell played inspired from there on out, attacking the basket and scoring 13 of her 16 points after halftime. Syndy Durugordon also tallied 16 points and Sara DeLuca added eight points. Bayside cut the lead to 55-37 after three quarters, but McGill and Olsen opened the fourth with consecutive treys.
The young Warriors have grown into one family, with one goal that one win away.
“To get with the championship with this team is really special,” Rosalbo said. “We started off with a group of girls that knew each other and another group of girls who knew each other. Playing together and actually going to a championship as a team as a whole it shows a lot. It shows how much we’ve grown on each other.”Follow @NYPostsports