Freeport eliminated Long Beach from the Nassau Class AA girls’ basketball playoffs for a second straight season, winning a turnover-marred 37-23 opening-round matchup last Friday at Long Beach Middle School.
The ninth-seeded Red Devils (11-7) held the hosts to seven points in the first half en route to advancing to face No. 1 Massapequa in the quarterfinals. They were led by Sarah Edmond’s 13 points and Taylor Miller’s 12 points and nine rebounds. It was a tough ending for the eighth-seeded Lady Marines (11-6), who got eight points apiece from juniors Perri Steiner and Liz Rourke. Both teams had only four players score.
“The offense killed us,” Long Beach coach Kristin Ciccone said. “I thought we played well enough defensively to win. We had a lot of good looks, but we just didn’t get any shots to fall.”
The Lady Marines shot 1-for-19 from the floor in the first quarter but trailed only 6-2 after Rourke’s basket with 1:48 remaining. In the second, they shot 2-for-13 and dug a 16-7 hole after Edmond and Miller got Freeport’s offense going in the right direction with four points apiece.
“We’re a hard-nosed, gritty team,” Freeport coach Meredith Jones said. “If we can force turnovers like we did today, we tend to be successful.”
Ciccone didn’t keep her players long during intermission and said she didn’t make any adjustments. “I just wanted them out on the floor shooting,” she said. “We only gave up 16 points, and I felt that as long as we started to make some shots we could win.”
A three-pointer by A.J. Smith early in the second half upped the Red Devils’ lead to 21-9. Steiner scored six points in the third quarter, including back-to-back baskets to trim the margin to eight. However, Edmond sandwiched baskets around two free throws by Aysha Harris, and the visitors took a 27-15 lead into the fourth.
“I was happy with how balanced things were,” Jones said. “One of goals all season was to play above everything else, and today we did.”
Trading baskets in the fourth wasn’t enough for Long Beach, which could get no closer than 10. Late free throws by Edmond and Harris sealed the outcome and ended a successful season for the Lady Marines, who hit 11 of 64 attempts from the floor and 1 of 5 from the line.
“I told the girls to hold their heads high,” Ciccone said. “They overcame adversity and had a great season. We didn’t even have a home gym up until a few weeks ago. I’m really proud of them.”
Long Beach, with only one senior — Molly Martin — in its starting lineup, finished third in a highly competitive Conference AA-III. It went on a six-game winning streak between Jan. 18 and Feb. 5, including a signature victory over eventual conference champion Mepham. After losing the first meeting by 31 points, the Lady Marines handed the Lady Pirates their first conference defeat in two seasons, 41-36, behind eighth-grader Aislinn Flynn’s 12 points.