In her final game as a high school basketball player on Saturday, Mikayla Dwyer’s Shoreham-Wading River team was eliminated from the Suffolk County Class A playoffs.
But in many ways the senior guard went out a winner. She scored a career-high 26 points in a 77-62 quarterfinal loss at Kings Park.
“We knew they were a good team coming in,” she said. “We prepared a lot for it. We worked our butts off today. It wasn’t the way we wanted it to end, but it’s a good group of girls. It’s just upsetting that I’m a senior. It’s my last year. I’m sorry. I’m going to …”
Dwyer got choked up but regained her composure.
“It’s not reality yet,” she said. “I feel I’m definitely going to be tying my shoes next week.”
The second-seeded Kingsmen (19-2) had something to do with that. Sam Schulz recorded 33 points and 12 rebounds and Sam Hogan added 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists to reach Tuesday’s home quarterfinal against No. 6 Hauppauge.
“I told them we played hard,” Shoreham coach Adam Lievre said. “Obviously, that’s the ultimate goal. You’ve got to play hard, you’ve got to leave it all out there, which we did. If we could take away the first quarter, we probably played them even, if not outscored them after the first quarter.”
If you took away Dwyer from the Wildcats, they would have struggled Saturday. She tallied 13 points in each half, many off her patented right baseline drives.
“Three years, probably the best game she ever played as a varsity player,” Lievre said. “If it wasn’t for her, we would have had a hard time scoring. She was great. The baseline drive over and over and over again. Even though they knew it was coming and they kept saying, ‘Don’t let her go baseline,’ she kept beating them on the baseline. She was awesome.
“It’s unfortunate. That’s it. It’s the last time I get to see her, but it’s a pretty good lasting image of getting to watch her play one more time. She maybe was as equally as dominant as Schulz was on the other side of the court.”
Schulz, who entered the game second in the country in scoring with 26.8 points a game, was difficult to stop as well. Only 33 seconds into the contest, she sank a trey for a 3-0 advantage. The 5-11 guard — she turns into a forward on defense — spent the rest of the game converting drives to the baskets and foul shots, topping 30 points for the 10th time this season.
“She’s definitely a great player,” Dwyer said. “We tried our best to defend. She’s a great offender, defender. She’s all over the place, so you’ve got to give her props.”
Schulz scored 12 points in the opening quarter as Kings Park built a 26-11 lead before extending it to 42-28 at the half. The Kingsmen extended their margin to 18 points at 48-30 with 5:30 remaining in the third quarter before Lievre’s halftime strategy deploying five guards kicked in.
“I just thought the only way for us to get back into the game was to press,” he said. “They really didn’t have any bigs in terms of post players, so we went with guards. We’re going to use our speed and our athleticism and just work our butts off on defense on every single possession.”
It certainly made Kings Park sweat. The Wildcats got within 54-47 on Michele Corona’s basket with 19.1 seconds left in the third quarter. (Corona had 10 points). They were held at arm’s length as Hogan scored the Kingsmen’s seven final points of the game to hold off Shoreham’s late rally.
Abby Korzekwinski added 12 points for the Wildcats.