It took the Lady Sharks two quarters to shake off the feisty Lady Eagles of Rocky Point (0-7 in League V) on Thursday. But a 10-point run to start the third quarter and a strong defensive effort helped fuel a second half performance that propelled Eastport South Manor (3-4) past Rocky Point for a 52-33 win.
Rocky Point, still looking for its first League V win of the season, kept the game close in the first half. Defensively, its speedy guards matched up well and helped prevent the ball from getting into Eastport South Manor’s low post. Offensively, the Lady Eagles had success attacking the basket from the perimeter. They exploited the Lady Sharks several times using screens near the high post and connecting off the dribble at the top of the paint. The Lady Sharks countered with long range shooting mostly, scoring five field goals from three-point land. Point guard Samantha Giacolone had the hot hand, draining four three-pointers, and small forward Nijay Brown added the fifth. ESM had several opportunities to take the lead in the first half, but failed to score on several breakaways, keeping the game level, 18-18, to end the first half.
ESM coach Steve Giacolone commented on his team’s play in the first half.
“We started out slow. I don’t think the first half we played very well offensively,” he said. “We weren’t in rhythm, we had open shoots that we couldn’t make.”
The first half was soon forgotten after the buzzer sounded to begin the third quarter. Led by Brown (10 points), Giacolone (17 points, 7 assists) and Kristen Anderson (19 points, 12 rebounds), the Lady Sharks served up ten unanswered points to take a 28-18 lead and eventually win the game. Giacolone attributed the turnaround to shooting percentages, getting up and down the court faster, and making an adjustment on defense.
“We hit some shots whereas in the first half we had those shots and we missed them,” he said. The Lady Sharks added quick points on fast breaks as well as getting more opportunities down low in the paint.
“We scored a couple of points on the transition early in the second half,” Giacolone continued. “Kristen played a little bit tougher, got some offensive rebounds and gave us second and third opportunities and we converted them.”
In the meantime Rocky Point’s offense fizzled, mustering only five points. Coach Giacolone emphasized playing better defense at halftime.
“It’s just a matter of you’ve got to move your feet,” he said. “You can’t reach, you can’t sit on your heels. We had to step into the lane, which I don’t think we did a great job of, but we were a little bit more aware of it.”
In the fourth quarter, Anderson opened up the scoring for the Lady Sharks by connecting on five field goals. Undersized, the Lady Eagles could not find an answer for the taller Anderson who out-rebounded Rocky Point’s players and found open spaces to score inside.
“When we started opening up the lead, they went into a 1-3-1, it opened up the offense for us,” Giacolone said. “A couple of times where they extended our man-to-man, Sam beat them to the rim and drew the person and we got it to Kristen who finished for us.”
With the win, Eastport South Manor keeps its playoff hopes alive.
“We lost three games to teams that are very, very good by twenty points or more,” Giacolone said. “It’s not going to be an easy task, but we gotta take it one game at a time, you never know.”
Before beating Rocky Point, ESM lost 52-26 at home against Kings Park (6-1) on January 15. ESM was down 22-7 at halftime and couldn’t make up the difference. Giacolone led the Lady Sharks with 11 points.
Boys Drop Three Straight
After winning back-to-back League V games against Westhampton Beach (0-7) and Sayville (1-5) in early January, the Eastport South Manor boys basketball team (2-5) has dropped its last three. On Tuesday, January 15, the Sharks travelled to Kings Park (5-1) to avenge last February’s four-point loss. Despite three players scoring in double digits—Devon Cummings (11 points), Mat Annunziata (10), and Dennis Sullivan (10)—the Sharks came up short again and were outscored 21-9 in the fourth quarter to eventually lose by the same margin, 59-45.
On Thursday, January 18, the Sharks went on the road to face Rocky Point (3-2). Eastport South Manor had already dropped its first game with the Eagles back in mid December and was hoping to level the series and gain some ground in the standings. This time, however, the Sharks were outscored in the first quarter, 18-9, and despite battling back to get within four points to start the fourth quarter, they ended up losing, 67-61.
Dennis Sullivan led the team in scoring with 23 points, including four three-pointers. Cody Kull added 10 points and Cummings contributed nine more as Eastport South Manor maintained its fifth-place position in League V.
ESM will have another chance against Harborfields (6-0) to even its series on Tuesday, January 22, and then look to sweep Westhampton Beach on Friday, January 29 on the road.
ON THE SCHEDULE: Girls—Tuesday, 1/22, at Harborfields, 6 p.m.; Tuesday, 1/29, vs. Westhampton Beach, 5:45 p.m. Boys—Tuesday, 1/22, vs. Harborfields, 5:45 p.m.; Tuesday, 1/29, at Westhampton Beach, 5:45 p.m.