The Eastport South Manor girls basketball team lost both of its road games last week, forcing the Lady Sharks to win their four remaining contests in order to secure a postseason berth.
The Lady Sharks (2-6 League IV, 5-10 overall) fell 49-34 at Half Hollow Hills West on January 29 before losing 46-43 at Deer Park on Saturday. The back-to-back losses will force ESM to run the table to qualify for the playoffs.
ESM head coach Steve Giacolone is still confident that his team will be playing this postseason, noting that his players will continue to take his one-game-at-a-time attitude entering the final days of the season.
“We’re capable of doing it,” Giacolone said about making the playoffs, “but so many things have to go our way. We really just have to play a full game, hit our foul shots.”
Hitting foul shots was a problem in the loss to Deer Park. ESM was 4 for 12 from the free-throw line while Deer Park finished 12 for 18. The Lady Sharks also had a hard time defending Aly Dzierzynski, who scored 12 points and pulled down 14 rebounds. Ten of her points came in the second half, and six of those points came off offensive rebounds, according to Giacolone.
“I thought that hurt us,” the coach said. “I thought we initially stopped their offense with our defense, and this girl found a way to keep coming back to hurt us.”
While the loss to Hills West was still a double-digit loss, the Lady Sharks showed marked improvement against a team that had beaten them by 18 points earlier in the season. The difference, according to Giacolone, was the Lady Sharks ability to fight through Hills West’s tough full-court press defense.
ESM stayed within striking distance, trailing just 22-17 at the half, until Hills West took control of the game in the third quarter, outscoring the Lady Sharks 17-7.
“We took them out of their rhythm,” Giacolone said of his team’s first-half effort. “They’re a great team though, and great teams always find a way to win. When you play a team of that caliber, you can’t fall behind that much.”
Amanda Brisson led ESM in scoring in both games. She had eight points against Hills West and 15 points against Deer Park. “I definitely think she’s playing with a lot more confidence,” Giacolone said of Brisson. “She’s shooting the ball, which is what we need. We need her to score.”
ESM was scheduled to continue its playoff push Tuesday evening at Riverhead. The Lady Sharks will return home on Thursday to host West Babylon at 5:45 p.m.
The Sharks are still searching for their first League IV win of the season after dropping both of their division games last week. On January 29, the Sharks (0-8 League IV, 2-13 overall) fell at home to Half Hollow Hills West by a score of 61-53, before dropping a 62-44 decision on Saturday at Deer Park.
ESM senior Mike Annunziata lead the Sharks in offense in both games, scoring 15 points against Hills West and 18 points in the Deer Park game.
The Sharks hosted Riverhead on Tuesday afternoon and are scheduled to visit West Babylon on Thursday. Tip-off is at 5:45 p.m.