The Southampton girls basketball team got its first League VII win of the season last week, beating Babylon, 46-29, at home on Friday night.
The win, as well as the margin of victory, would be considered a surprise to many, as the Lady Mariners lost four of five starters and all but two players from the varsity last season, while Babylon is expected to be much improved after having an undefeated junior varsity team last year. But Southampton head coach Richard “Juni” Wingfield has been impressed by the determination of his young players, who have shown a commitment to defense and good old-fashioned hard work, which has helped them to be competitive thus far in a game where they may not have been expected to be.
“We expect [every team] to be decent, and because so many people expected us not to be, it’s kind of like a reverse psychology,” Wingfield said. “We don’t feel any pressure. It’s ok, because if you ask anybody and their mother, they would say there’s no way you can lose all the kids you lost and still be competitive. But these kids have made a decision to set out and create their own identity.”
The Lady Mariners had a slim 13-12 lead after the first quarter and then steadily improved from there, owning a 22-16 lead at halftime and then outscoring the Lady Panthers 11-4 in the third quarter and 13-9 in the fourth. Senior guard Noelle Hodges led the team with 21 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals, while freshman guard Brook-Lyn Walker, who had missed the previous two games, finished with 10 points. Freshman Chloe Scheuch had seven points, while Caroline Ricca had four points, and Sydney Katz had four points, 11 rebounds and three assists.
Wingfield expects strong play from Hodges, the lone returning starter from last year’s team, and she has carried the squad in most games this season. But he said he was particularly happy with the play of Walker and Scheuch.
“Brook-Lyn makes a difference with her quickness and feistiness and her ability to create offense with her defense,” he said. “She knocks a lot of balls loose. And with Chloe, we talked all week about shooting being mental and it’s just so great to see with her in particular that she felt like, hey, Juni’s right. Somewhere along the line, if you think you can, you can.”
Overall, Wingfield was very happy with the win, which moved Southampton to 1-1 in League VII, 3-2 overall.
“It was a fun game for us,” he said. Wingfield added that the fact that his team’s schedule hasn’t been overwhelmed by non-league games has been good, since it has allowed the squad to work on important things in practice. He said overall, he couldn’t be happier with what he’s seen from the team so far.
“They are so willing to have true grit,” he said. “They are so willing to understand that that’s what it’s about. You just hang in there, and give it all you’ve got. Defense is the name of the game now, and they are so willing to believe that.
“We can’t shoot our way out of anything,” Wingfield continued. “But we can execute our way out; we can execute defense.”
ON THE SCHEDULE: Friday, 1/3, vs. Center Moriches, 6:15 p.m.; Tuesday, 1/7, at Southold/Greenport (non-league), 6:15 p.m.; Friday, 1/10, vs. Wyandanch, 6:15 p.m.; Tuesday, 1/14, at Mattituck, 5:45 p.m.