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Locust Valley seeks perfection

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The Locust Valley girls’ basketball team finished its regular season a perfect 19-0 overall and cruised to the Nassau Conference A5 title. That record was good enough to earn the Lady Falcons the two-seed in the Class A playoffs and a first round bye.

On Feb. 20, Locust Valley beat 15-seed Hewlett, a team that earned a second round berth after a win over 18-seed Garden City, by a score of 71-31. At halftime, Locust Valley led 39-12. Head coach Mike Guidone was still not comfortable and reiterated to his team to avoid complacency.

“We’ve had a couple games where we’ve jumped out to early leads in the first half and have had some shaky third quarters,” Guidone said. “We talked about staying on top of our game and being intense.” After three quarters, Locust Valley’s lead moved to 60-21.

Locust Valley was able to successfully negate the impact of Nassau’s leading scorer Reilly Weiss. She averaged 28.3 points per game this season, over six points more on average than the county’s second leading scorer. She was held to nine points on the night and didn’t score until the second half. It was only the second time all season that Weiss had not been her team’s leading scorer.

“We played a diamond and one on her and switched the one guarding her every few minutes to keep fresh legs with her,” Guidone said. “We had someone chasing her at all times and threw a second defender at her a lot.”

The Lady Falcons were able to convert turnovers into transition opportunities and open jump shots, and more often than not, they capitalized.

Paige O’Brien finished with a game-high 24 points, while Lindsay Hogan totaled 16. They both combined for 10 three-pointers. Payton Tini poured in 14 points and Julia Sabatino finished with seven. Four more Lady Falcons scored at least two points.

“This season has been so special,” said Guidone, whose team beat No. 10 Lynbrook, 60-40, on Tuesday night in the quarterfinals. “Sometimes you can be hard-pressed to find two girls that can be your leading scorer any given night. It’s a huge comfort to know we realistically have four.”

Moving forward, Guidone wants to keep up the pace. Having a quick tempo and transitioning from defense to offense quickly is a major focus. Another advantage is its ability to tickle the nets from long range frequently. Guidone admits that his team has the ability to hit three-pointers with consistency, but warned that there has to be a multifaceted attack.

“If you live and die by the three, you can get in trouble,” Guidone said. “We have the ability to drive to the rim, and when our shots aren’t falling, our motion offense can pick up the slack. But as long as our defense is humming, we’ll be in a good position.”

Locust Valley faces third-seeded Manhasset in the semifinals this Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Farmingdale State.