The Eastport South Manor girls basketball team won its first playoff game in two years after beating Bellport, 59-56, on Friday night in the opening round of the Suffolk County Class AA playoffs. ESM last won a playoff game in 2010 when it defeated Huntington in the first round of the Class A playoffs.
Friday night’s victory advanced the 18th-seeded Lady Sharks to the second round of the playoffs at second-seeded Lindenhurst on Monday afternoon, where they lost 58-23, putting an end to their season. Lindenhurst advanced to the quarterfinals on Wednesday and hosted Northport, which defeated Copiague Monday night.
ESM couldn’t get anything going offensively against Lindenhurst as it fell behind 20-0 after the first quarter. The Lady Sharks were able to play with the Lady Bulldogs for much of the rest of the game but the first quarter deficit proved to be too much to overcome. The Lady Sharks used clutch three-point and free throw shooting to defeat 15th-seeded Bellport last week. Both teams went toe-to-toe with one another throughout the game with Bellport taking a one-point lead at halftime thanks to a lay-up from Asia Rountree with 35 seconds remaining in the half.
Towards the end of the third quarter, it looked like ESM was going to take control of the game, as it went on a 6-0 run. Bellport was able to end the run just before the end of the quarter with a layup to make it a 45-40 ESM game heading into the final frame.
Halfway through the fourth, though, Bellport went on a run of its own and actually took the lead thanks to Afua Bediero. She hit a runner in the lane to tie things up at 51-51, then she scored on a layup and sunk her free throw after being fouled to make it a three-point lead for the Lady Clippers.
But, the Lady Sharks came back. Dene DiMartino scored on a layup then Samantha Giacolone hit one of her six three-pointers in the game to widen her team’s lead. With 24 seconds remaining in the game, Arella Guirantes was able to get a shot off for Bellport but DiMartino grabbed the rebound and was fouled right away. She hit the front end of her one-and-one, then Stephanie Gratto iced the game with less than 10 seconds left by making her two free throws.
Giacolone finished with a game-high 21 points while DiMartino scored 16. Guirantes scored a team-high 18 points for Bellport.
ESM will be graduating four players from their team this season. DiMartino, Bunai, Riley Brisson and Kristen Webber will all be receiving their high school diplomas in June.