After missing a practice prior to a lopsided loss against Shoreham/Wading River, East Hampton girls basketball player Nicole Fierro promised head coach Howard Wood that both she and her teammates would put forth a much better effort in their next league game.
The senior guard was true to her word, leading East Hampton to a 44-29 home win over Westhampton Beach on Thursday. Fierro scored 17 points to lead all scorers as her team picked up its first League VI win of the year.
The win helped erase the memory of a 69-17 loss at Shoreham/Wading River on December 16 in which the Lady Bonackers failed to score more than five points in any quarter.
Wood said he was pleased to see his team rebound from the tough loss with a much better effort against the Lady Hurricanes.
“They really stepped up after being wiped out by Shoreham,” he said. “It just showed the character of the girls and it was really good to see. It’s not easy to come back two days later and play after getting beat like that.”
The night after the loss to Shoreham, Fierro called Wood to assure him that he wouldn’t see another bad performance against Westhampton Beach. Wood said he appreciated the phone call and added that he had faith Fierro would make good on her promise.
“She told me not to worry and said they were going to come out like gangbusters,” he said. “She always plays with great intensity and that’s what I look for.”
Wood said that Fierro’s absence from practice was excused as she was on a college visit that was scheduled specifically for her desire to continue playing soccer at the next level, but he said she felt guilty about missing a practice before a game and even needed to be convinced by him that it was okay to go.
“She’s such a leader that she didn’t want to go, but I knew that her missing one practice wasn’t going to make a difference,” Wood said. “Whatever sport she plays, she always gives 150 percent so I had no qualms about it.”
Fierro certainly didn’t miss a beat against Westhampton Beach, hitting shots from the outside while also driving to the basket and either scoring or getting to the free throw line.
East Hampton also got a strong performance from eighth-grader Kaelyn Ward, who finished with 16 points. Wood said he was proud of Ward’s effort, considering her relative youth and inexperience at the varsity level.
While Fierro and Ward accounted for the majority of the scoring, Wood said he was pleased with the overall effort of the entire team.
It was night and day from what he saw against Shoreham.
“Our girls did not show up at all,” he said. “We were beat before we even pulled out of the parking lot on that day, and if you’re not focused at that moment, you can’t just turn it on and off.”
Fierro scored 13 of the team’s 17 points against Shoreham.
After turning it on against Westhampton Beach, Wood is hoping that his players can keep up the intensity despite the fact that they’ll have a lot of time off before their next game. The Lady Bonackers will visit Bayport/Blue Point on January 6 at 6:15 p.m.