Long Beach seeks positive finish


Long Beach came painfully close to putting together its first winning streak of the season, but young New Hyde Park star Maeve Downing had other plans Jan. 24.

Downing, an eighth-grader, scored a career-high 23 points and pulled down 12 rebounds as New Hyde Park outlasted the Marines in overtime, 48-45, in a Nassau Conference A1 girls’ basketball matchup. Her performance offset one of Long Beach’s most balanced scoring efforts of the season with five players producing at least 7 points, led by sophomore Franky DeCicco’s dozen.

“We had opportunities to win, but we missed some shots we needed to make and Downing hurt us,” Long Beach head coach Kristin Ciccone said. “There’s no reason why we can’t beat them the second time around.”

Downing’s layup put the Gladiators ahead for good with 17 seconds remaining in OT. The Marines led 11-6 after the first quarter and increased their advantage to 21-14 at the half. It was 30-30 after three quarters and tied at 39 at the end of regulation.

Sophomore Raegan McCarthy added 8 points and juniors Ella Timpiero and Ava Main, and sophomore Delaney Chernoff added 7 points apiece for Long Beach (2-11 overall, 1-6 in A1), which was coming off its first conference victory of the season but had close to 30 turnovers.

“We’ve haven’t been consistent,” Ciccone said. “It’s a young team with three sophomores and two juniors starting. We’ve had a hard time fielding a full lineup since the season began for various reasons. It’s not because of effort. When the girls dig deep and play team defense, we look good.”

The Marines were trying to build off a 45-23 blowout victory over Great Neck South on Jan. 21. DeCicco and McCarthy had 10 points apiece as Long Beach avenged a loss to the Rebels in the first meeting. The key in the rematch, Ciccone said, was limiting Great Neck South to one three-pointer.

“The girls really followed the game plan and everyone did their part,” Ciccone said. “On offense we moved the ball well and hit some outside shots. Defensively we played a 3-2 zone and did a nice job switching off their screens.

“We also rebounded and limited turnovers,” she added.

Long Beach played its best first half of the season, Ciccone said, and built a 31-8 halftime cushion.

DiCicco leads the team in scoring, averaging 7.5 points per game. “When she’s on, she’s a catalyst everyone else feeds off,” Ciccone noted. “Some of our key plays are designed around her.”

Timpeiro is making steady progress running the show from the point, with Main also asked to bring the ball up the floor. McCarthy is building confidence with her play in the low post, while Chernoff provides leadership, hustle and scoring. “Delaney never takes a play off,” Ciccone said.

Freshman Brooke Nielson, senior Haley Brandt and juniors Emma Larson, Fabiana Bocina and Keira Larson are also contributing.

Long Beach’s rematch with New Hyde Park is Feb. 10 on the road at 5 p.m.