CLIPPERS 47, WILDCATS 38
Christmas music played during breaks in play, lending a festive atmosphere to the non-league high school girls basketball game between Bellport and Shoreham-Wading River on Saturday. But Bellport’s standout player, Arella Guirantes, had added reason to be of good cheer.
It isn’t often when Guirantes feels uncomfortable on a basketball court, but that was the case for the junior guard for several minutes early in the fourth quarter when the spotlight was figuratively cast on her, and her alone.
Guirantes sank a free throw 16 seconds into the fourth quarter of the game at Shoreham-Wading River High School to become the third player in Bellport history to reach the 1,000-point mark. The game was stopped and her achievement was announced on the public-address system. One of the Shoreham players, Shannon Rosati, hugged Guirantes, who was presented with flowers and the game ball that she held as she posed for photographs. She was all smiles.
Afterward, Guirantes had an awful lot to smile about. Having entered the season-opening game needing 24 points to reach 1,000, the player with the smooth shooting touch struck for 35 points. No other Bellport player scored more than 4 points. Guirantes shot 10 of 19 from the field, 2 of 5 from 3-point range and made 13 of 15 foul shots.
And yet, that wasn’t nearly all she did. Guirantes, a productive player, also accounted for 17 rebounds, 7 blocks, 4 steals and 2 assists. Talk about putting in a full day’s work.
Guirantes, who as a sophomore became the third Bellport player to be named to Newsday’s All-Long Island team, has received about a dozen scholarship offers from colleges, according to her coach, Rodney O’Neal. She showed her quality against the Wildcats, who marked a milestone of their own with the varsity coaching debut of Adam Lievre, who was formerly Shoreham’s junior varsity coach.
Try as they did, the Wildcats couldn’t stop Guirantes, who was guarded by Jessica McCormack, but often faced double- and even triple-team attention when she had the ball in her hands.
Guirantes scored Bellport’s first 15 points. By halftime she had already scored 17 points and her 1,000th point seemed a virtual certainty.
Bellport, which held the lead since early in the second quarter, outrebounded the Wildcats by 38-20, and 16-6 on the offensive end. Maame Amankwah pulled in 9 of those rebounds before fouling out with 41.8 seconds left in the game. Earlier in the quarter, her teammate Nicole Powell had picked up her fifth personal foul as a result of a technical foul.
Shoreham’s biggest issue, it seemed, was shooting. The Wildcats shot 30.4 percent from the field and 10 of 22 from the foul line.
It didn’t help Shoreham’s cause that it played without one of its regular starters, senior forward Taylor Whiffen, who was taking a Scholastic Aptitude Test.
The Wildcats did have Courtney Clasen, the talented junior guard/forward who totaled 19 points, 11 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 blocks and 2 assists. Rosati chipped in 11 points.
Both teams endured a scare with 32.7 seconds remaining when Bellport’s Haley Wagner and Shoreham’s Alex Hutchins and Clasen met in a violent collision while racing for a loose ball. Clasen, who took a head to the neck from Hutchins, remained on the floor for a while along with Wagner. Both players walked off and were later said to be fine.