The Westhampton Beach girls basketball team was eyeing its game at crosstown rival Eastport South Manor on January 29 as a pseudo county championship game, since all hopes of the team making the playoffs ended a few weeks ago. And, as it turned out, last week’s rivalry game had everything you’d hope for in an actual county final, as it came down to the final seconds to determine a winner.
The Lady Hurricanes pulled out a 35-34 victory at ESM, avenging a 49-24 defeat at home to the Lady Sharks on January 3. Meanwhile, the loss by ESM put the team into a position where it had to win all three games left on its schedule to qualify for the Class A postseason. The Lady Sharks followed up with a loss, 51-30, at Sayville on Thursday, January 31, taking themselves out of contention for the playoffs for the first time in three years.
Westhampton Beach (3-7 in League V play, 4-12 overall) led ESM (3-7 League V, 5-11 overall) by four points heading into the fourth and final quarter, when the Lady Sharks were able to turn things around and go back and forth with the Lady Canes. Westhampton Beach senior Sammie Vickers sank a running jump shot in the lane with 10 seconds remaining in the game to give her team the 35-34 lead—but the game was far from over.
With 4.5 seconds remaining, Westhampton Beach junior Ivonne Grunseich and ESM junior Kristen Anderson both raced for a loose rebound heading out of bounds. Anderson reached to grab the ball, her right foot was on the out-of-bounds line, which gave the Lady Canes the ball with just seconds remaining in the game, seemingly with the opportunity to ice the win.
But, following a time out, Westhampton Beach had a hard time getting the ball in play and was called for a five-second violation, giving the ball back to the Lady Sharks with 2.8 seconds left and in their own offensive end. ESM struggled to inbounds the ball as well, but eventually got the ball to one of their best shooters, sophomore Samantha Giacolone—but she wasn’t able to get a shot off, and Westhampton Beach won the game.
Westhampton Beach head coach Mike Polan said he enjoyed watching his team play at full strength, finally. Having junior Brooke Alpert (wrist, concussion) back in the lineup makes the Lady Canes very quick at the guard positions with Vickers, and Grunseich gives them a presence down low.
Vickers scored a game-high 14 points, while Alpert scored 13. Grunseich had 12 rebounds with four points, and senior Katelyn Ogeka also scored four points.
“Over the years it’s been a good rivalry for us,” Polan said. “When I first started coaching, we played [ESM] regardless, but we’re in the same league now. [ESM head coach Steve Giacolone] does a good job over there. It’s developed into a good rivalry, and the games, for the most part, have been close.
“I’m proud of the girls,” he added. “They beat us pretty good at our place last time out, and we had to do something different. We stuck with the game plan, and it worked out for us.”
Polan explained that the key was limiting the shots for Samantha Giacolone, who made five three-pointers when the teams last met. Polan also wanted to keep a close eye on Anderson, who scored 14 points in the previous game.ON THE SCHEDULE: Westhampton Beach—Tuesday, 2/5, vs. Sayville, 5:45 p.m.; Friday, 2/8, at Islip, 4:30 p.m. ESM—Tuesday, 2/5, vs. Islip, 5:45 p.m.; Friday, 2/8, at Kings Park, 5:45 p.m.