Since the turn of the century, girls’ basketball excellence has been on display in the Sewanhaka Central High School District. In fact, teams from the district have brought home the Nassau County Class A championship nine times over the past 19 seasons.
The two programs that have combined to win the past three county titles renewed their rivalry last Friday afternoon at Sewanhaka High School. And, for the second time this season, it was Elmont coming out on top.
Senior guard Amaya Richberg scored a game-high 19 points and sophomore Keilah Watkins added 10, all in the second half, to lead the Spartans to a 43-33 victory. Senior Brianna Moore pulled down 12 rebounds and blocked four shots as Elmont improved to 13-4 overall, 9-2 in Conference A-II.
Backed by their energetic home crowd, the Indians were up 17-11 late in the first half, but Elmont, which was playing without point guard Rae Sawyer, took over on both ends of the floor. The Spartans went on a 15-0 run that extended well into the second half and put the game away. The Elmont defense held Sewanhaka without a field goal for nearly nine minutes.
After a clutch three by Watkins gave the Spartans their largest lead of the game at 38-22 midway through the final quarter, the Indians showed some heart and scored the next six to cut into the deficit, but they’d get no closer. Ashley Vigliotti scored 13 points to lead the Indians.
“We expected this to be a high-pressure game,” Elmont head coach Tom Magno said. “We knew Sewanhaka was going to come after us and that we’d have to match their intensity. For about three quarters of the first half they outworked us. We wanted to mix things up defensively, but our man-to-man was really good, so we just stuck with it. We did a nice job.”
Richberg, who is averaging 17.8 points per game, is clearly the team’s go-to scorer, but this win was a team effort. Moore was dominant at times on the glass, Orobo Ogbovoh scored a couple of timely baskets, and freshman Aryanna Pierre was terrific on defense.
Watkins, who didn’t score until burying a huge three with :27 remaining in the third quarter, hit four free throws in the final minute to sew things up for the Spartans. The Indians got a spirited effort from senior Angelica Lazo. The hard-working point guard scored six points and had six steals. Sewanhaka fell to 6-5 in league play.
Both teams have one more conference game to play before the Class A first round playoff matchups are announced. Magno likes the way his team is playing.
“We’re not going to just go out and outscore people, so it’s always going to start with defense,” Magno said. “If we can create offense off our defense, it’s all the better. We have a good group. We’ll be in the hunt I guess. It all depends on who shows up that day.”