SUFFOLK COUNTY CLASS A QUARTERFINAL | WARRIORS 48, WILDCATS 45
Some players are lifted onto the shoulders of their teammates when they make their final exit. In Courtney Clasen’s case, she was rolled out of the Shoreham-Wading River High School gym on a chair supported by wheels.
It’s safe to say that Clasen’s final minutes as a Shoreham basketball player did not go as she might have envisioned. After making a layup and rolling her right ankle on the landing, Clasen spent the last 2 minutes 13 seconds of her high school career sitting on the bench, with her right leg spread out across a chair and an ice pack on her ailing ankle. The senior forward watched her teammates make a valiant comeback attempt in her absence, only to fall short, 48-45, to fifth-seeded Comsewogue in a Suffolk County Class A Tournament quarterfinal on Wednesday night.
Clasen made that layup despite being fouled by Nora Gabel. She clutched her right ankle in obvious pain and had to be helped off the court, putting no pressure on the ankle. After Shoreham’s postgame team meeting, laughing teammates pushed a smiling Clasen, sitting on the movable chair, across the gym floor. She later conducted an interview while sitting in the chair.
Clasen had injured her left ankle in the first game of the season, which caused her to miss some playing time early on.
Despite not having Clasen on the floor, the No. 4 Wildcats somehow pulled themselves back into a game that at one point appeared headed toward a runaway.
Comsewogue (14-5) led from the second quarter on, leading by as many as 16 points when a Gabel basket made it 46-30 in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats had looked out of sync at times, and yet closed the rather bizarre game on a 15-2 run to make things interesting.
Three Comsewogue starters — Gabel, Hailey Ottaka and Megan Turner — fouled out late in the game, which had some interesting twists along the way.
Shoreham’s Sam Higgins sank 4 of 4 free throws and Mackenzie Zajac downed another two in the final 40.8 seconds to pull the Wildcats (9-7) to within 3 points at 48-45.
After Comsewogue’s Alyssa Olsen missed a one-and-one attempt with 5.4 seconds left, Higgins grabbed the rebound and pushed the ball forward to Zajac, whose last-second 3-point attempt banged off the glass.
Olsen hit three 3-pointers to finish with 21 points as well as 6 assists. Gabel registered 16 points and Ottaka grabbed 10 rebounds.
Clasen, who has scored over 700 career points in four seasons with the Wildcats and is headed for NCAA Division I Coastal Carolina, turned in a typical all-around game. She shot 5 of 15 from the floor for 18 points in addition to providing her side with 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 blocks and 3 steals.
Clausen, who took team-leading averages of 14 points and 10 rebounds per game into the contest, had some memorable highlights. In the first quarter she caught up to Olsen and blocked her layup attempt from behind. She later made a nifty dribbling display before scoring a basket in the fourth quarter.