Already with a pair of thrilling come-from-behind one-point victories under its belt, Mepham continued to thrive in pressure situations last Saturday and held on for a 53-49 win at Valley Stream Central to maintain the top spot in Nassau Conference A-I girls’ basketball.
Sophomore Julia Rawlinson poured in a game-high 25 points, and seniors Caroline Keane (11) and Maxine Bresnaider (10) also scored in double figures to lead the Lady Pirates (7-0 in A-I) to their ninth win in 10 games following an 0-3 start. Junior point guard Jillian Mayer added nine assists and had just a single turnover. Central (5-3 in A-I) was led by senior Kaitlin Gabbidon’s 17 points.
“We’re not perfect, but we’re getting better and finding ways to win,” Mepham head coach Jim Mulvey said. “We’ve owned the fourth quarter.”
Though the mild second-half rally paled in comparison to the Lady Pirates’ 68-67 overtime victory over MacArthur on Jan. 3 as well as a few others, they still had to scratch and claw past an improved Central squad in search of a fourth consecutive win. The Lady Eagles, who also got double figures in points from junior Janay Legagneur (13) and freshman Arianna Haughton (10), led by a basket at halftime and by as many as four for the game.
“Central has some nice pieces,” said Mulvey, whose team defeated Central, 48-36, in the conference opener Dec. 17 behind Keane’s 22 points. “We stepped up defensively and became more aggressive in the second half.”
Mepham took a 40-37 lead into the fourth quarter of the rematch after holding the Lady Eagles to five points in the third while scoring twice as many. The final eight minutes were tightly contested, though the lead was never relinquished.
“We played three games on the road in four days and trailed in every one,” said Mulvey, who saw the Lady Pirates fall behind Great Neck South by 11 and non-league opponent Kennedy by 16 before pulling out victories. “I think this week has made us a tougher team.”
Rawlinson hit for a career-high 32 points in a 62-52 triumph at Great Neck South on Jan. 16 and is averaging 22 points in conference games. “She’s very athletic and in transition she’s really hard to stop,” Mulvey said. “She’s aggressive to the basket and gets to the foul line a lot.”
Mulvey said Rawlinson’s breakout game came at Herricks on Dec. 20. She scored 13 of her 20 points in the fourth quarter to help Mepham rally from a 15-point deficit for a 50-49 win. Mayer added nine points, and freshman Riley Clark had eight points and 10 rebounds.
Rawlinson had 30 points and 14 rebounds in the aforementioned OT win over MacArthur. Keane provided the heroics at the buzzer, sinking the winning three-pointer off an inbounds pass by Mayer, who assumed the starting point guard role after junior Lorrie Dellacroce went down with an ACL injury in a scrimmage.
“I’m proud of how the team has handled adversity and grown,” Mulvey said.