The Manhasset Indians were able to fend off a tough and physical Seaford Vikings team that made the playoffs after only winning four games last season. The final scoreline, 64-37, does not tell the whole story, but Manhasset dominated throughout the game.
In the first quarter, the Indians were led by a red hot Emma LoPinto as she hit three 3’s and converted an “and 1” to cap the 8-minute period with 12 points. LoPinto’s shooting stroke helped the Indians get out to 18-9 lead in the first quarter.
“That’s huge for her and for us knowing that she’s feeling good and when she’s on that early in the game it’s going to be a good night for us,” Manhasset head coach Lauren Sadeh said. “When she comes out hot like that and from the get-go, we know that we can pass her the ball anywhere on the court and she could probably put it in.”
The game started to get physical in the second quarter with players diving onto the floor for loose balls and tussling for rebounds. The game was mired by foul calls that stopped the flow of the game.
“Definitely expected a tough physical game,” Sadeh said. “Definitely a team that doesn’t back down to anybody. We knew that we were going to have our work cut out for us. Defensively, we knew that if we weren’t making good passes, they were going to get deflections and get some steals and make us pay for it. Going into this game, we knew we had to play good team basketball, share the ball and I think we did that. I think we actually executed that pretty well.”
Junior center Grace Gately got into foul trouble early on after defending Seaford star player Jamie McSorley in the paint. That forced Sadeh to bring sophomore backup center Carly George into the game and she made quite the impact.
“Carly’s been huge for us coming off the bench and giving us really good quality minutes and giving us that size,” Sadeh said. “We know what she’s capable of, but getting her and putting her in a position where she could show it to herself.”
George was stout defensively against McSorley, who ended the game with only 5 points, and she was able to protect the rim as well. While George’s impact was not seen in the box score, her teammates recognized her play.
“Carly is such a special player,” LoPinto said. “She is the tallest we have gotten in awhile and to have her be there right when I miss a layup and she just put it back in, it’s cool to have her. She just keeps getting better and better every game.”
The game was never truly in reach for Seaford, as Manhasset was able to break down their 2-3 zone pretty easily and used their athleticism to get out on the fast break.
“We came out strong, we definitely wanted to get a fast start so it would not be a close game the whole game,” LoPinto, who finished with 23 points, said. “It’s just so fun to come out here and play. We waited for almost a week and scouted them against Long Beach, so coming here at home with a big crowd and their big crowd, it’s just a lot of fun.”
The Indians look to keep their playoff run going as they take on Wantagh at home on Tuesday, Feb. 25. They will again be the higher seed, but as the Indians have proved before, they will not factor that into the equation.
“We don’t underestimate any other team,” senior point guard Maria Themelis said. “Of course, there are seedings coming into playoffs and yes, we were favored, we were the home team and the higher seed, but we did not look at that at all. We took them as any other team, and honestly, it’s anyone’s game in the playoffs.”