In the spirit of the holiday season, the Shoreham-Wading River girls basketball team just might be a little too generous in terms of giving some opponents unexpected gifts on the court.
On Dec. 12, the Wildcats couldn’t hold a 10-point lead late in the third quarter against Westhampton and went down to a 49-44 loss.
On Monday, they led for most of the League VI game and entered the final period with a two-point edge, but suffered several key turnovers and eventually a 46-42 home defeat to John Glenn.
“That hurts,” Shoreham coach Adam Lievre said. “It was a very frustrating loss.”
A loss that left the Wildcats 4-3 overall and 2-3 in the league.
“The turnovers in the fourth quarter were just bad,” Lievre said. “We probably had 30 turnovers.”
According to this reporter’s statistics, Shoreham finished with 24 turnovers, while Glenn (4-2, 3-1) made 25. But it was when the Wildcats committed them — during crunch time. “It just didn’t play out the way we wanted it to,” said senior forward Abby Korzekwinski, who tied Hayden Lachenmeyer for the team lead with 12 points apiece despite missing the entire second quarter due to foul trouble.
“We didn’t finish it out,” added Lachenmeyer. “That’s what we need to work on. Just finishing out the whole game instead of letting down in the fourth quarter.”
The Wildcats enjoyed a 35-33 lead with four minutes and 24 seconds remaining in the game when things went south.
Glenn scored seven consecutive points and never looked back. Aaliyah Gonzalez sank a 15-footer with 4:10 remaining to tie the game at 35 before Allison Pelkonen hit one of her own to give the Lady Knights a 37-35 advantage with 3:26 left. Thirteen seconds later, Madison Mullman (game-high 17 points) canned a trey for a 40-35 margin.
In-between those baskets, the Wildcats wasted several possessions, throwing the ball away on self-induced errors.
“We had a two-minute stretch where we even didn’t get a shot off,” Lievre said. “We just threw the ball away, which was really on us. It wasn’t because of trapping or full court pressure, it was just a lazy pass, someone not coming back to the ball, a bad decision with the ball.”
In contrast to a 58-19 loss to Glenn on Dec. 5, the Wildcats showed a marked improvement.
“They embarrassed us,” Korzekwinski said of the first meeting.
This time, it was different.
“It made us want to work harder, not lose by that much again,” Korzekwinski said. “It was tough to go through. We wanted to get revenge.”
The Wildcats almost got that.
They came out strong grabbing a 7-0 advantage before the Lady Knights scored their first point on Pelkonen’s foul shot at the four-minute mark. It was close through the third quarter as Shoreham enjoyed as much as a five-point lead.
“We were a lot more focused today,” Lachenmeyer said.
But that focus was lost in the final eight minutes.
It might be a few days before Christmas, but Lievre is thinking about February. The team can ill afford to give away games now and expect to reach the playoffs.
“Things that have to get better if we want to win games in this league because every night is going to be like this,” Lievre said.
When asked about his team’s prospects, Lievre replied, “It’s obviously a tough call right now to say can we deal with that pressure. That’s what we’re going to see. We’re going to be in tight games like that all year long. It’s early in the season, but we’re going to have to do some maturing quickly to be able to play a 32-minute game where we do take care of the ball when we have to.”
No doubt there is an urgency to win now. The Wildcats were scheduled to play at Bayport-Blue Point on Wednesday before a nine-day holiday break. They then will host Newfield on a rare matinee on Friday, Dec. 27 at 11:45 a.m.
“We definitely want to make it into the playoffs,” Korzekwinski said. “We have to turn it around right now. We’re in these close games, but we just keep falling off at the end. We have to push through and really turn it around before the break.”