The Lady Mariners lost two more basketball games this week, but their coach says his team is thriving on heart, determination and the knowledge that they’re building for a bright future.
Southampton fell into the same old pattern in back-to-back non-league home games against Babylon on Friday and Stony Brook on Saturday. Although the Lady Mariners are able to hold their own through the first quarter, but top players consistently get into foul trouble, often fouling out in the fourth quarter, leading to losses.
Babylon beat the Lady Mariners 47-33, but Southampton finished the first half down by just three points and led by one point 30-29 heading into the fourth quarter. Eighth-grader Kesi Goree, who finished with six points, fouled out just as the final period began, and top scoring senior Leah Eleazer fouled out with about two minutes left in the game. Nicole McGuinness also fouled out in the fourth quarter.
“We were fighting tooth and nail,” Southampton head coach Rich “Juni” Wingfield said, noting that despite all efforts, the Lady Mariners could not cover their opponents and were outscored 18-3 in the fourth period.
“We don’t have the kind of depth that allows us to lose three starters,” Wingfield said, noting that his team’s aggressive but inexperienced play often causes key players to foul out unnecessarily. Still, he said it was a good game and “everybody contributed.”
Eleazer injured her ankle in the first quarter, but she bit her lip and returned to action a short time later. “What a warrior,” Wingfield said of the senior player, adding that she’s “tough as nails.”
He said Eleazer is injured, but with the trainer’s approval she will play out the season, which amounts to four more games, her last playing for the team before graduation. Even injured, Eleazer managed to lead Southampton against Babylon with nine points and lead against Stony Brook the following night with 14 points.
Wingfield said the Stony Brook game was “a real test” and most of his girls only had 10 to 12 hours rest between games. Southampton lost 43-25, but he noted that the Lady Whalers again remained in the game until the fourth period.
“It’s the same old song,” Wingfield said, explaining that his team was only down three points at the half and down six points at the end of the third quarter against the best team they’ve faced, but the 6-foot Goree fouled out in the fourth. Without Goree, he said the Lady Mariners were unable to manage anything against the Lady Bears. After a fairly competitive game, they were outscored 18-6 in the fourth period.
“This team is picked to win the class C Long Island title this year,” Wingfield said of Stony Brook, which is 5-0 in League VIII.
Ever the optimist, Wingfield commended his young team for playing excellent ball. “You never worry about big or small or wide or anything,” he said. “We don’t worry about what they can do, we worry about what we can do.” Wingfield said the girls feel good about their effort and the fact that they “laid it all out on the line. We tried to win, we didn’t wait for them to lose.”
Stony Brook forward Danielle Spiliotis led all scorers with 20 points, including eight points in the fourth quarter, and guard Sadie Singer followed with 13 points, 10 of which were in the fourth quarter.
Behind Eleazer’s 14 points, McGuinness finished with six points and Miranda Alvarado scored five points on Saturday.
“All year long, if anything, we had quality losses,” Wingfield said. “We left everything on the court.” Eleazer will not return next season, but Wingfield said his team is growing and gaining experience. Regardless of the fact that they will miss the playoffs, “the future is bright,” said Wingfield, of the Lady Mariners, who are 1-7 in League VII this season.
Southampton returns to league play in Port Jefferson, 1-7 in League VII, at 6:45 p.m. on Friday and at home against second-place Center Moriches, 6-1 in League VII, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.