In one of the more highly anticipated regular-season games on the schedule, it was the home team that prevailed as Sewanhaka outlasted district rival Elmont 61-56 in a Conference A-II girls’ basketball matchup on Jan. 8.
Carly Bolivar scored 17 points and pulled down seven rebounds, and Flo Hunte added 16 points to lead the Lady Indians. Elmont, which hadn’t lost a league game in nearly five years, got a career-high 34 points from senior guard Gigi Faison.
After Lady Spartans’ guard Nataiya Bailey hit a timely three to tie the score at 49 apiece, a put back by Ashley Cattle and a long three-pointer from Hunte put Sewanhaka ahead to stay. Key coast-to-coast baskets by Cattle and Bolivar in final minute helped the Lady Indians finish off Elmont.
Bolivar, who battled foul trouble throughout the game, knew it wasn’t just offense that helped the hosts prevail. “Our main focus in practice is defense,” Bolivar said. “We want to trap, force turnovers, and take the ball the other way. We played our game, today.”
While Sewanhaka’s three senior captains are regulars in the box score, the Lady Indians received a boost from a relatively unheralded performer. Midway through the second quarter senior Marianna Bevilacqua stole a pass, dribbled the length of the court, and finished off an old-school three-point play to bring the crowd to its feet.
Juniors Mia Weinschreider, Samirah Akinwunmi, and Ashley Vigliotti all came up big for Sewanhaka. Vigliotti opened the final quarter with a three from the corner, Akinwunmi pulled down four key offensive rebounds, and Weinschreider made a few huge plays on the defensive end.
Every time the Lady Spartans appeared to be done, Faison went to the basket with authority, hit a mid-range jumper, or found an open teammate. “She does it all for us, and she does it in an unselfish way,” Elmont head coach Tom Magno said. “We’re encouraging everyone else to rise up. We’re not asking Gigi to do more than she needs to.”
It wasn’t a great start for Sewanhaka, which stands at 7-4 overall; 5-1 in league play. Elmont’s man-to-man defense had the Indians looking out of sorts in the early going. A basket by Alexis Stewart gave the Spartans an early 8-1 lead before threes from Bolivar and Weinschreider helped the home team settle in.
“For me, really for everyone, once we hit our first shots of the game, it’s on,” Hunte said. “It took us a little time to get things going. This is was a sweet win for us. We got a lot of help from everyone. It doesn’t matter to us who scores or who makes the big shot, as long as we win. This will definitely help our confidence. But, we have to keep our focus, and not get cocky about a big win.”
Elmont, which lost to undefeated Jericho late last week, is 6-5 overall, 4-2 in Conference A-II. The Lady Spartans travel to New Hyde Park this Saturday at noon. Sewanhaka hosts Jericho, also at noon.