WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Once the horn sounded, Maia Hood and the Alexander Hamilton starters, who were waiting anxiously, rushed out onto the court to begin the celebration.
The Red Raiders, seeded first, defeated third-seeded Keio, 60-24, to win the Section 1 Class C Girl’s Basketball Championship on Saturday at the Westchester County Center.
It was Hamilton’s first Section 1 girl’s basketball title since 1988.
“It was really exciting,” said Hood of watching the final seconds tick away. “We were just waiting, to run out there because we finally did it. We finally won a sectional championship.”
Hamilton, now 18-2, advances to the regional semifinals on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. against the Section 9 champion at the Westchester County Center. The Red Raiders had lost to Haldane in the 2009 and 2011 Section 1 Class C finals.
Hood, who was named the tournament most valuable player, finished with 29 points, 11 rebounds and four steals, Ayanna Behagen, who had 12 points, sevens steals and four assists, was selected to the all-tournament team, along with Jasmine Robinson, who netted seven points.
Following the post-game handshake, Hamilton was excited to get its collective hands on the grand prize, the Gold Ball trophy, awarded to the Section 1 basketball champion.
“To actually hold the gold ball for the first time felt really awesome,” said Behagen, in her first year on varsity after playing three years at Blessed Sacrament in New Rochelle.
Hamilton led, 16-5, after the first quarter and opened the second quarter with a 10-0 run. Hood scored 12 points in the second quarter and Amani Lightbourne added six of her eight points. Lightbourne also finished with six steals, five rebounds and three assists.
“We were a little nervous, at first, but then we were able to get over it because we were getting our chance to win the gold ball,” said Behagen of the first quarter.
The Red Raiders were a determined group coming into the season and it showed, opening the season with five consecutive wins. Included among the wins were Rye, Horace Greeley and Spring Valley.
“We were playing against the big schools and that’s when we felt that we could win the section,” said Hood, who shared the championship with her father Paul, an assistant coach.
Sae Toyomura, who led Keio with 11 points, was selected to the all-tournament team. Keio, which concludes its season with a 7-13 record, reached the County Center for a second consecutive year and made its first appearance in a sectional final.
“From two years ago, not making it at all, then making it two years in a row and playing in our first final, we are making strides,” Keio coach Justin Loeb said. “The girls played great all season."
Keio 5 7 2 10 -- 24
Hamilton 16 28 14 2 -- 60
Keio (24) -- Marino Kokubo 1-1-4, Mari Oki 1-2-4, Mao Takeshita 2-1-5, Misao Ishi 0-0-0, Sae Toyomura 4-2-11, Junri Takagi 0-0-0, Masako Ziizika 0-0-0, Yuuki Tokunaga 0-0-0, Natsumi Hirota 0-0-0, Saki Matsuda 0-0-0, Tsubasa Hashimoto 0-0-0, Ichigo Oota 0-0-0, Haruka Morioka 0-0-0, Kaede Saji 0-0-0. Totals: 8-6-24.
Hamilton (60) -- Kali Gill 0-0-0, Amani Lightbourne 3-2-8, Maia Hood 14-1-29, Jasmine Robinson 3-1-7, Erika Jones 0-0-0, Ayanna Behagan 6-0-12, Nevline Petitfort 0-0-0, Donasia Farmer 2-0-4, Maiya Scott 0-0-0, Mikayla Brown 0-0-0, DeJahne Johnson 0-0-0. Totals: 28-4-60.
3-point goals -- Ke: Kokubo, Toyomura.