Shooting woes plague Freeport


Freeport’s second lengthy win streak of the season came to an end Saturday morning when it was unable to overcome a poor shooting performance against the same Massapequa team that stopped its first hot stretch.

Alexa Cirabasi poured in a game-high 20 points and Briana Neary added 13 as the Chiefs defeated the Red Devils, 47-40, to move into sole possession of first place in Nassau Conference AA1 girls’ basketball. Freeport (15-2 overall, 6-2 in AA1) had won nine games in a row.

“I told the girls we’re not going to beat a top team like Massapequa with how terribly we shot,” Red Devils head coach Meredith Jones said. “I thought we came out a little flat energy wise, which we tend to be early in the morning. That caused us to chase the scoreboard all game.

“The girls worked to create the shots we wanted, we just couldn’t get many of them to fall and Massapequa hit some big threes,” she added.

Neary (3), Cirabasi (2) and Grace Trotta (7 points) combined to hit six shots from behind the arc for the visitors, who squeaked by Freeport 49-48 in the first meeting between the teams Dec. 21, snapping the Red Devils’ six-game win streak out of the gate.

“They were coming off a tough overtime loss to Syosset and were fired up looking to avenge that result,” Jones said of Massapequa, which built a 14-9 lead after the first quarter and never looked back. “We turned the ball over more than we usually do and even our defense wasn’t clicking the way it normally does,” she added. “We’ve had a great season so far but today just wasn’t our day.”

Freeport’s lone lead came in the opening minute when junior StarAsia Gaines swished a jumper in the lane for the game’s first bucket. Senior Taneece Wooden led the Red Devils with 14 points, while senior Anayah Lloyd and junior Nia Phillips chipped in 8 apiece, and junior Ania Crocker added 7.

“We just talked about every day in practice you’ve got to be at that game-level intensity, so when game day comes it’s there,” Jones said.

A pair of Phillips free throws midway through the second quarter closed the gap to 17-15, but the Chiefs scored five of the final seven points of the half to hold a 22-17 lead at intermission. Massapequa then increased the margin with a 17-9 third-quarter run.

“Hopefully we respond,” Jones said. “We have a tough week coming up with Syosset on Thursday night.”

“Playoffs is a whole new world, but we definitely want that win to assure we’re higher up in the seeding and also for confidence,” she added.

Freeport edged Syosset in the first meeting, 45-40, on Jan. 7 at Farmingdale College behind Wooden’s 14 points and 8 apiece from Gaines and Phillips.

The 40-point output against Massapequa was a season low for the Red Devils, who entered the contest averaging 53 per game.