t was a difficult first week of the season for the Eastport South Manor girls basketball team, as it lost 57-40 at Brentwood (League I) on Tuesday and fell 36-46 at home to Center Moriches (League VII) on Friday.
Despite Alex Marshall’s 18 points and six rebounds, the Lady Sharks fell behind against Brentwood relatively early. ESM narrowed Brentwood’s lead from 24 at the half to 17 by the end of the game, thanks to a brief scoring run in the fourth quarter.
“They’re good, they’re fast, they’re big and strong and put a lot of pressure on the ball,” ESM head coach Steve Giacolone said. “We got hit right away, and we expected it too. But the speed of the game is so much faster as opposed to practice and they’re fast as it is, which makes it double-hard.”
ESM fared better against Center Moriches, keeping it close throughout the first half. Up 13-12 at the end of the first quarter and nearly three minutes into a low-scoring second quarter, Center Moriches widened its lead when Tashea Plummer—the lone scorer for the quarter with six points—hit a three-pointer with 5:15 remaining and scored two with 4:40 left. She also hit a free throw to put the Lady Red Devils up 19-13. The Lady Sharks closed to within 19-16 by halftime on foul shots by Tara Gerstacker, Chelsea Kull and Marshall.
Center Moriches head coach Rich Alifano praised ESM for its effort, adding that ratcheting up the tempo helped his team to take the lead.
“ESM played a good first half,” he said. “It was our first game out of the gate, and we created the pace we wanted to have. We felt in control most of the time.”
Center Moriches put the game away in the third quarter, scoring 14 points to take a 33-20 lead into the final period. Amber Davis and Kelsie Glanzman did most of the damage in the third, while Jessica Bandrowski scored two points with 1:41 remaining and added a three-point shot with 10 seconds remaining.
“Our defense put on a lot of pressure,” Alifano said of his team’s second half, adding that the strategy led to more turnovers. “Defense creates offense.”
Alifano also credited the late-game rebounding of Davis and Katie Connolly for helping to keep the team ahead.
“We hit the boards a little harder in the second half,” he said.
ESM beefed up scoring in the fourth quarter off three-pointers by Kull and Amanda Brisson that gave the team 16 points, but still couldn’t catch Center Moriches, which scored 13 points to preserve the win. Davis added five of those points for her team, including a three-pointer with 2:53 to go.
Giacolone gave Center Moriches its due, adding that freshmen point guards Dene DiMartino and Riley Brisson are gaining the necessary experience that will lead to improved offense.
“They’re an experienced team,” he said. “All their starters are back from last year, and they’re very aggressive offensively. We had difficulty breaking the press and the hard-nosed man-to-man defense.”
Brisson led ESM with 10 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Marshall had seven points and eight rebounds. Dimartino had six points, five rebounds and four assists, and Kull chipped in six points and four rebounds.
The Lady Devils were led in scoring by Plummer and Davis with 11 points each. Jessica Bandrowski scored 10 points, Emma Whittle and Katie Connolly contributed four points each and Shayna Allen chipped in three points.
Connolly led her team with 14 rebounds. Davis grabbed nine rebounds.
Alifano said the lack of a decisive leading scorer on his team in the game was a good thing.
“It was evenly dispersed from that perspective,” he said. “There was balanced scoring with everybody contributing and everyone playing a fair amount.”
ESM was slated to host Westhampton Beach (League VI) for its only game of this week on Tuesday at 6:45 p.m.
Center Moriches was scheduled for two road games this week, including one at Westhampton Beach on Wednesday at 5:45 p.m. game., and another at Stony Brook (League VIII) on Friday at 7 p.m.