Picture this: Anyone who walked into the Shoreham-Wading River High School gym during the school day Monday was in for a surprise.
After entering through the main entrance, it would have been hard not to notice leaning against a gym wall the three larger-than-life photo posters of the girls basketball team’s three seniors, who were honored later as part of senior day.
“I think they look great. I love them,” one of those seniors, Hayden Lachenmeyer, said. “I saw mine first in gym class today because they were displayed for the school to see. I was told that I looked very buff in my picture.”
The blown-up posters, about eight feet tall, were of Abby Korzekwinski, Megan Greene and Lachenmeyer, who may have played their final game in their home gym. SWR had already clinched a 14th successive playoff berth, but it’s uncertain whether the Wildcats will get a home playoff game.
Monday’s Suffolk County League VI loss to Sayville didn’t help SWR’s cause. Sayville, which ousted SWR last year in a Suffolk Class A outbracket game, avenged a five-point loss to the Wildcats Jan. 7. This time, the Golden Flashes closed on a 7-2 burst in the final 1 minute, 28 seconds for a 43-40 triumph.
“We played great,” Greene said. “We just couldn’t finish, but you know what? We’re going to work on that and come the playoffs, it will be different.”
Sayville (15-4, 11-4), winner of four of five games, tied the score at 38-38 on a Dominique Rinaldi putback and then went in front when Kerri Gunther’s neat bounce pass found Emma Famularo (13 points) for a layup.
After a pair of missed Sayville free throws, a three-point attempt by SWR was off the mark. Following a timeout, Rinaldi was sent to the foul line where she sank two free throws for a 42-38 lead with 7.6 seconds left.
SWR pulled within two points on a Korzekwinski putback before teammate GraceAnn Leonard fouled out and Sayville’s Jenna Harclerode made one of two foul shots with 1.5 seconds to go. A desperate half-court attempt by SWR wasn’t close before the final buzzer sounded.
“I knew it was going to be a hard fight all the way through,” Lachenmeyer said. “I think we played really well. We had high energy. It was just a couple of shots didn’t fall.”
The two teams’ top players, Harclerode and Korzekwinski, both finished around their season scoring averages. Harclerode ended up with 16 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks, two assists and two steals. Korzekwinski had 17 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Even if the teams don’t meet in the playoffs, those two players will likely face each other again. Korzekwinski, headed for SUNY/New Paltz, said she will play against Harclerode, who has committed to SUNY/Oneonta, in college.
SWR (11-8, 9-6), which had won seven of its previous eight games, had one of its top defenders, Mia Rosati, guard Harclerode. “She’s a good player, so it’s hard to guard someone like that,” said Lachenmeyer.
SWR coach Adam Lievre spoke glowingly about his seniors, who total nine years of varsity experience.
“All three kids are great kids,” he said in a pregame interview. He said they have been good leaders and role models for their younger teammates. “It’s huge to have a senior class like that.”
In his remarks during the ceremony, Lievre said of Lachenmeyer: “From a coach’s viewpoint, her contributions go beyond the stat sheet. The things that she does on the court, she’s one of the smartest players I’ve ever coached.”
Greene was amped up about making her first ever varsity start. “Oh, I was so excited,” she said. “I got to play with people I don’t normally play with. I’m a benchie, but I got to start today.”
Well before the game even began, Lievre kept things in perspective. Referring to his seniors, he said: “There’s a bigger picture to winning and losing sometimes. It’s about celebrating their careers. This is not the conclusion. The story does not end tonight.”