WILDCATS 45, MUSTANGS 17
The game itself was surely not a work of art. It is highly doubtful that the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame will be calling to request video of Thursday’s girls basketball game between Shoreham-Wading River and Mount Sinai. In fact, the Shoreham-Wading River coach, Dennis Haughney, said he wouldn’t watch the game video if he didn’t have to.
Not that Shoreham-Wading River didn’t play well, because it did, and in the process, the Wildcats coasted to a 45-17 win that kept them running virtually neck and neck with Elwood/John Glenn in the race for the Suffolk County League VI championship. It was Shoreham-Wading River’s 11th win in 12 games and third straight victory since an 18-point loss to Elwood/John Glenn.
This could be a special season for Shoreham-Wading River (11-4, 8-1), which is seeking its first league title since 2002.
“You want to give it a shot,” Haughney said. “We don’t talk about it a lot.”
But the Wildcats have a lot to play for, nonetheless.
“We’re working so hard,” junior forward Taylor Whiffen said. “There’s something for us to accomplish. We’ve been trying this for years. Last year we wanted to win [the league], but this year we really think we have a chance.”
Shoreham-Wading River kept its chances looking good by taking care of business Thursday at Mount Sinai High School in a game that didn’t always look so good.
For most of the opening six minutes, the score stood at 2-0 Shoreham-Wading River thanks to a basket by Meghan King. Both teams were in a shooting funk, and the first quarter ended with the score 6-0. But as the Wildcats slowly picked up their scoring, their defense remained intense, and Mount Sinai (7-7, 2-7) struggled mightily. The Mustangs finally got on the scoreboard when Carissa Gulli made a free throw 1:55 into the second quarter.
Mount Sinai managed only 3 points in the first half from three free throws, and it missed its first nine shots from the field. Shoreham-Wading River held the Mustangs without a field goal until Kate Hogan put in a two-handed shot in the paint 16 seconds into the third quarter.
Mount Sinai shot 6 of 34 (17.6 percent) from the field for the game, yet managed to make it a 10-point contest when a basket by Marisa Colacino cut Shoreham-Wading River’s lead to 17-7 early in the third quarter.
Haughney couldn’t rest easy. “I’ve seen crazy stuff happen,” he said.
But the Wildcats then scored the next 9 points — 6 of them coming from King — to run the score to 26-7. Later, Shoreham-Wading River opened the fourth quarter with a 16-4 spurt in which six players scored for the Wildcats, giving their side a 42-15 lead late in the game.
King had a big day. Before the senior forward made her exit along with teammate Courtney Clasen with 1:49 left in the game, she had collected 15 points, 11 rebounds, 6 steals and 1 blocked shot. Keri Clark added 10 points with the aid of three 3-point shots. Clasen totaled 5 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 1 blocked shot.
Shoreham-Wading River outrebounded the home team by 44-27 and by 18-5 on the offensive glass.
What King liked best about the game, though, was Shoreham-Wading River’s ball movement.
“It was a good game for passing,” she said. “We still had mistakes, obviously, and that’s going to happen with every game. We were finding the open girl and passing inside.”
Shoreham-Wading River didn’t exactly shoot the lights out, hitting 15 of 46 (32.6 percent) field-goal attempts, but it played aggressive defense, challenging Mount Sinai shooters at every turn.
Jessica Parente was the top scorer for Mount Sinai with 8 points.
“Defensively, we always work hard, and I think that always gives us a chance,” Haughney said. “I really feel like we haven’t brought our best game yet as far as just all around hitting shots and whatnot. I guess we’re just athletic enough and work hard enough and do enough good things just to win the games.”
Shoreham-Wading River started the day in second place, a half-game behind Elwood/John Glenn. The teams will meet in their final regular-season game on Feb. 8 in Shoreham. That game could be for the league crown.
“I think we’re finally starting to work as a team,” Whiffen said. “We’re moving the ball more, our shots are falling. We’ve been working hard, and it’s paying off. We haven’t played our best game but we’re still working hard, and it will come.”