A look at the stat sheet would declare Paris Hodges as the star of the Southampton girls basketball team’s 47-30 win at Center Moriches on Thursday night. While the junior guard was certainly a major factor in her team’s victory, leading all scorers with 19 points, head coach Richard “Juni” Wingfield was just as eager to speak about the contributions of another, less heralded player on his team.
Junior guard Carley Guida was the unsung hero in what was a big-time win for the Lady Mariners, who improved to 4-0 in League VII, 7-3 overall. Guida was given the task of guarding guard Takia Plummer, Center Moriches’s best player. Normally, that duty would fall on Hodges. But Wingfield said he took notice of Guida’s tenacity on defense in a scrimmage against North Babylon earlier in the season, when she gave standout guard Brianna Jones a run for her money. Guida did the same to Plummer, holding her to just nine points, only two of which came from the floor—the rest were earned at the free-throw line.
Without a significant scoring contribution from Plummer, the Lady Red Devils—already struggling after losing standout forward Kelsey Glanzman to a season-ending knee injury—didn’t have enough punch on offense to keep up with the Lady Mariners. But more importantly, Wingfield said, Hodges was free to focus more on her game in the low post. The result was not only 19 points, but a career-high 13 rebounds. And that is huge, Wingfield said, because the Lady Mariners lost their best rebounder, Dominique Taylor, to a severe ankle sprain earlier in the year.
“Paris stepped up big,” Wingfield said. “But Carley was the MVP. She has stepped up in such a big way on defense, and I don’t have qualms about putting her on anybody. We found out she has a real penchant for doing a great job defensively. She sees her role as a defensive stopper and she’s become an integral part of the team.”
Indeed, great team chemistry and a balanced attack in all aspects of the game has made Southampton the team to beat in League VII. Aside from the contributions of Hodges and Guida, forward Kesi Goree also had a nice game, finishing with 10 points, 12 rebounds and three assists. Guard Cassidy Guida—twin sister of Carley—came alive late in the game with her trademark strong shooting and finished with nine points. Sophomore point guard Noelle Hodges had seven points.
Southampton ultimately ran away with the game, but it wasn’t a blowout from the start. The Lady Red Devils started with the hot hand, leading, 13-9, after the first quarter and maintaining a four-point lead at halftime. The Lady Mariners cut the deficit to two going into the final quarter, where they went on a tear to take control of the game.
Wingfield said he was proud of his team’s ability to keep its composure and not panic despite falling behind the defending county champions early on. He said he didn’t think either team did anything particularly different in the second half, but said rather his team simply had patience and confidence in its game plan.
“We just did what we had to do, which was to sustain the level of energy we need in a game on the road,” he said. “Mentally, we adjusted. They have the maturity now where they’re not going to get into a panic because a team takes a lead.”
The Lady Mariners were scheduled to host Babylon (2-2) on Tuesday, January 17, and will finish the first half of the league season in what should be a great game on Friday, visiting Hampton Bays. The Lady Baymen (3-0, 8-1) are off to a great start as well and their battle with Southampton will be a fight for first place in the league.ON THE SCHEDULE: Tuesday, 1/17, vs. Babylon, 7 p.m.; Friday 1/20, at Hampton Bays, 7 p.m.; Friday, 1/27, vs. Mercy, 7 p.m.; Tuesday, 1/31, at Mattituck, 6:15 p.m.