It’s something she might be doing a lot of this season.Southampton senior Noelle Hodges put the Lady Mariners basketball team on her back in its non-league season opener at William Floyd on Wednesday night, scoring all 12 of her team’s points in the fourth quarter to lead Southampton to a 37-32 win. In that quarter, the Lady Mariners held Floyd to just two points, paving the way for Hodges to seal the win.
The senior guard, who is the only returning starter and one of just two returning players from a team that won back-to-back Suffolk County and Long Island Class B championships, finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, seven steals and five assists. Teammate Sydney Katz, a forward who came off the bench last year, finished with six points, eight rebounds and a steal. Freshman guard Brook-Lyn Walker had three points, while Caroline Ricca, Chloe Scheuch, Samona Ward and Pauline Delacruz each had two points.
“We hung in there and we managed,” Southampton head coach Richard “Juni” Wingfield said of his team’s effort. “Every win for us right now is a good win.”
With a bench full of talented veteran players last year, Wingfield employed a man-to-man pressure defense with great success all season long. This year, however, Southampton will play a zone much more often, due both to the squad’s collective inexperience and also because of tighter calls on fouls this year thanks to some rules changes. But Wingfield said he asked his team to go to a man defense in the fourth quarter, and it paid off.
“When we changed our defense, it caught [Floyd] by surprise a little,” he said. “It allowed us, once there were turnovers, to use Noelle more to her strengths. She likes to get out in the open court and go.”
Of the 12 points Hodges scored in the fourth, five came from the free-throw line.
Wingfield said that creating turnovers was precisely what put his team in a position to win, and it’s what made his team so successful in recent years.
“I always tell them that whoever wins the turnover battle wins the game,” he said. “It’s all about creating opportunities. I guarantee that in every game we won last year, we won the turnover battle.”
While this year’s team is inexperienced and untested, aside from Hodges and Katz, Wingfield said he’s been pleased with the progress so far.
“I’m very, very excited and happy with the level of commitment that people are making to becoming better,” he said. “That’s all I can ask for.”
ON THE SCHEDULE: Friday, 12/13, vs. Hampton Bays, 4 p.m.; Monday, 12/16, at Westhampton (non-league), 4:30 p.m.