CLASS A FIRST ROUND | WILDCATS 38, GOLDEN FLASHES 34
Courtney Clasen was admittedly frustrated through most of the first three quarters Friday night. The Shoreham-Wading River junior couldn’t buy a bucket, her team couldn’t hit a free throw and the turnovers continued to pile up.
Sayville opened its largest led of the game at 29-19 with 1:41 left in the third quarter of a Class A first round playoff game, which was slowly slipping away from the fourth-seeded Wildcats.
“If we don’t do it now, we’re never going to do it,” Clasen said. “That’s what the thought was.”
The Wildcats came storming back with a 13-0 run to retake the lead in the fourth quarter, and with the game on the line, Clasen made play after play. She scored the final eight Shoreham points to reach a triple double in a 38-34 victory that sends the Wildcats (11-6) into the semifinals against top-seeded Harborfields Wednesday.
Clasen scored 11 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked 10 shots. She was a menace on defense all game, using her height and athleticism to swat away shots as Sayville players neared the rim.
“That’s my favorite thing to do,” Clasen said.
Clasen caught a feed down low from freshman Sophie Triandafils and scored on a short baseline shot to cap the 13-0 run for Shoreham with 3:01 left in the fourth quarter. Sayville (11-8) tied the game at 32 on a 10-foot jumper by senior Kathleen Barry with 1:36 left.
Clasen answered right away with a basket to put Shoreham back in front by two. A pair of free throws by junior Erin MacDevitt tied the game again with 1:10 left. The fifth-seeded Golden Flashes stole the ball on the inbounds, but Clasen came up with her biggest block of the game when she swatted away a Sayville shot from right underneath the hoop.
The Wildcats dodged a bullet, pushed the ball up court and found Clasen for a short jumper in the paint that she swished. She hit two free throws in the final 24 seconds to ice the game for Shoreham.
“I just kept thinking, after this if we lose it’s over,” Clasen said. “I don’t want to hear those words, ‘no practice’ tomorrow.”
Shoreham coach Adam Lievre, who won his first playoff game as a varsity coach, said it’s no surprise when Clasen steps up in the clutch.
“She’s our go-to player,” he said. “She did not play her best the first half, but I figure at some point she’s going to get going. And it happened at the right time.”
Senior Shannon Rosati helped spark the turnaround for Shoreham late in the third. She scored five quick points to close out the quarter that trimmed the Wildcats’ deficit in half heading into the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats overcame a dreadful shooting performance at the free-throw line. The Wildcats shot 5 of 19 from the stripe, just 26 percent.
Lievre admitted free throws haven’t been a strong point all season.
“We’re probably about a 50 percent free throw shooting team, which obviously isn’t very good,” he said. “Tonight I would have taken 50 percent.”