If Shoreham-Wading River was ever to start a female football team, the Wildcats wouldn’t have to look far for their quarterback: sophomore Meghan King would fit right in.
As for their receivers, there would be plenty of girls to choose from as well.
The Wildcats put on a passing clinic Tuesday afternoon in their playoff opener at home against Miller Place, as King consistently threw deep passes off an inbounds to a teammate in order to beat the Panthers’ press. King threw one last bomb to senior Cali Lavey with two minutes left in the fourth quarter as the Wildcats put the finishing touches on a 55-38 victory that sends them to the semifinals Saturday against top-seeded John Glenn.
The home run pass is something the fourth-seeded Wildcats have worked on all year. And it worked to perfection time and time again against No. 5 Miller Place.
“I was surprised they didn’t have any back helping over the top,” said Shoreham coach Dennis Haughney. “We go four across and we like to do that. We have quick kids.”
It’s a set play the Wildcats have worked on all year to beat a press and Haughney said King has gotten better and better at throwing the long pass.
“If you don’t see anyone helping over the top, just it throw it down there,” Haughney said.
“All their guards would press up so we had the advantage of throwing it over,” added center Corinne Wiederkehr, who scored nine points.
The Panthers faced greater urgency to keep a full-court press on once the Wildcats raced out to an early lead. The Wildcats led by eight after one quarter and in the second they went on an 11-0 run to open up a 17-point lead. The Panthers never got within single digits the rest of the game.
Shoreham held Miller Place without a field goal for 6 1/2 minutes in the second quarter until Marlaina Sherman scored with 31 seconds left to cut Shoreham’s lead to 27-13. Sherman, the Panthers’ center, finished with nine points.
The Wildcats, led by Wiederkehr in the middle, did an excellent job to contain Sherman and keep her from dominating in the post. The Wildcats limited her to the fewest points in a game since she scored eight in the season opener against John Glenn. Sherman had scored as many as 32 in a game this season.
They did it with a team effort, led by King and Wiederkehr often trying to surround her in the paint to make it difficult for her to receive the ball.
“I was behind her and we had Meghan up in front of her,” said Wiederkehr as she wrapped a bag of ice around her left knee, which was surgically repaired just over a year ago. “So we always had her contained and if not we had one of the guards dropping back.”
Wiederkehr said the Wildcats centered their last two practices around guarding Sherman.
“We worked very hard to make sure that matchup was correct,” she said.
The Panthers put together one small run in the third quarter after falling behind by 21, but it wasn’t enough to threaten the Wildcat’s lead. Miller Place senior Brea Greene, who scored a game-high 23 points, scored six straight points off a conventional three-point play and a 3-pointer. Haughney then got hit with a technical foul for crossing over the line onto the court. Sherman hit both free throws for an 8-0 Miller Place run.
But the Wildcats came right back with a home run pass to Michelle Gostic, who scored on the break for two of her team-high 16 points. Gostic scored 13 seconds later on the break off a Miller Place turnover to push the lead back to 17.
“Even if things didn’t execute all the time our intensity was still there so we didn’t let them just turn around and run away with it,” Haughney said.
The Wildcats will now play an undefeated John Glenn team that has already beaten them twice this season. John Glenn features a similar style team to Miller Place, with a big girl anchoring the team alongside a strong group of guards. Haughney said playing a team like Miller Place gave his squad good preparation for what awaits with John Glenn.
“It’s nice that we almost went through a game like that already,” Haughney said.