There has been plenty to celebrate for the Southampton girls basketball team this year.
Aside from the fact that the undefeated Lady Mariners have a 7-0 record in League VII—beating their opponents by an average of 24 points per game—the team now boasts two 1,000-point scorers on its roster, a feat few schools achieve in the history of their programs, never mind in one season.
Senior Paris Hodges joined that elite club in a 50-34 road win over Center Moriches on Friday night. Early in the second half, she drove to the basket for two points and was fouled, leaving her one point shy of the milestone. She calmly sank the free throw to complete the three-point play, and was immediately surrounded by her teammates and family members who were sitting in the stands. The game was briefly halted as she was honored at half court with a ball commemorating her accomplishment, and the Center Moriches staff also handed her the game ball.
It was the second time this season that Southampton took a moment in the middle of a game to honor one of its players for reaching 1,000 points. Senior forward Kesi Goree achieved the milestone in a win over Mercy on January 11.
Hodges came into the game with Center Moriches needing just 12 points to reach 1,000, which is what she finished with, leading all scorers in the game. She scored a game-high 25 points in a 69-52 road win over Mattituck on January 15 to put the goal within reach.
Hodges, who will play basketball at Brandeis University next year, has been a member of the varsity since her freshman year, and head coach Juni Wingfield said he couldn’t have been prouder of her, not just as a talented player but an exemplary student and person.
“For Paris, it was just an incredible milestone,” he said. “She had so much family there, and it’s remarkable that she did this in four years.”
Wingfield said he knew that Hodges would become a special player the minute she joined the program. “It’s clear that Paris was not just a special player but a great person,” he said. “She’s always had such a tremendous
commitment and focus to everything she does. There was no doubt in my mind this was something she could do.”
Wingfield also pointed out that while many notable schools recruited her, Hodges chose Brandeis because of its reputation for academic excellence.
Hodges’s 1,000th point was the highlight in what was another dominant performance for the Lady Mariners. Center Moriches put up a good fight in the first quarter, but the Lady Mariners had a 28-13 lead by halftime. As he has in every league game this year, Wingfield went to his bench often in the second half. Goree and Cassidy Guida each finished with eight points, while forward Sydney Katz came off the bench for a career-high eight points.
Wingfield said he wasn’t surprised that the second-place Lady Red Devils made it interesting in the first quarter, but said his team did what he expected it to do in pulling away for the win.
“It’s something we expect from almost any team,” he said of Center Moriches’s strong start. “They will give us their best energy in the first quarter, and we have to match that energy. When we played those upper league teams [during the non-league schedule], we were on the other end of it. You have to take their best punch, and you don’t want to take that punch in the fourth quarter, you take it in the first. You take it early, and then you make adjustments.”
Likewise, Southampton held a 17-point halftime lead in the win over Mattituck, and the bench players were on the floor often in the second half. Guida finished with 14 points, hitting four three-pointers, while Noelle Hodges had 12, and Goree had 11 points and 13 rebounds.
Wingfield has been toeing a difficult line, making sure his top players get enough time on the floor while also trying to keep the score respectable against league foes, particularly the weaker teams. He said that while he doesn’t want to give any team the impression that he’s running up the score, he also wants to make sure his team is sharp and ready for the tougher competition it will face when the postseason rolls around. Southampton is intent on defending its Suffolk County and Long Island Class B titles, and hopes to go even further this season, especially with four of its five starters being seniors.
“The Center Moriches game was important, because we know that every team gets better the second time around,” he explained. “But we’re better also, so we don’t want to step in and let teams think they should be getting closer to us. We should be putting more distance between us, and that’s what we did.”ON THE SCHEDULE: Friday, 1/25, vs. Babylon, 7 p.m.; Tuesday, 1/29, vs. Wyandanch, 6:30 p.m.