East Meadow is still searching for consistent secondary scoring, but it won’t be too concerning for head coach Peter Olenik if junior Danielle Hippner continues her torrid pace.
Hippner poured in a career-high 31 points and fell a few blocks shy of a triple-double Jan. 9, leading the visiting Lady Jets to a 51-32 victory over improved Long Beach in a Nassau Conference AA-II girls’ basketball matchup. Hippner had 16 rebounds and swatted away eight shots, while sophomore Julie Tanenblatt added 10 points as East Meadow upped its record to 3-1 in AA-II and 6-5 overall. Sophomore Lainie Kassap paced the Lady Marines (1-3; 5-4) with 15, including all nine of their second-quarter points.
“Danielle’s having an All-County caliber season, no question about it,” Olenik said of the 6-foot-2 center who raised her averages to 22 points and 9 rebounds per game. “Baldwin is Baldwin, but she still found a way to put up 18 [points] against them and nobody else has been able to stop her,” he added. “She’s our go-to player and we’re going to ride her as long as we can.”
Long Beach’s ability to contain Hippner changed dramatically when junior 5-10 center Delilah Plunkett was forced to sit out due to illness. In addition, senior forward and leading scorer Adrianna Zieba-Rosa suffered a back injury on a fall in the first quarter and was far from 100 percent, head coach Kristin Ciccone said. Zieba-Rosa still managed 10 points.
“Adrianna’s been our most consistent player and she gives us that extra energy,” Ciccone said of Zieba-Rosa, who on Jan. 5 scored a career-high 17 points to help the Lady Marines defeat Westbury by 23.
All Long Beach had to show for through the opening quarter was a pair of Zieba-Rosa layups. The Lady Jets bolted to a 15-4 lead with Tanenbaum contributing five points and senior point guard Alyssa Yablansky, who played much of the game in foul trouble, netting four.
Hippner had eight points in the second quarter, but the hosts hung tough thanks to the hot hand of Kassap, who came off the bench and hit a three-pointer, a short jumper and 4 of 5 free throws in a span of six minutes. “Lainie is just returning from a concussion, but she’s showing it won’t be long before she’s back in the starting lineup,” Ciccone said.
Hippner added 11 third-quarter points to boost East Meadow’s lead to 43-27. Sophomore point guard Jasmine Soriano had all four of her points in the third for Long Beach, which enjoyed a recent stretch of five wins in six games. Last winter, the Lady Marines celebrated just one victory.
“We haven’t played our best the past few games, but this season is like night and day compared to last season,” Ciccone said. “We’re still pretty young, but we’re playing with more confidence.”
The win was East Meadow’s third in four games. “From beginning to end, we just played our best game of the season against Hicksville,” said Olenik, referring to a 24-point road victory on Jan. 5. “We’re a scrappy team.”