With the game on the line, Madison Taylor took over to propel the Wantagh girls’ basketball team to a come-from-behind conference win against neighborhood rival Seaford.
Trailing by six early in the fourth quarter, Taylor scored the game’s next eight points as part of a dominant final period in the Warriors’ 46-41 home win on Jan. 5. The senior point guard tallied 13 of her game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter when Wantagh outscored Seaford 17-8.
“She was a beast in that fourth quarter and took over the game,” Wantagh head coach Stan Bujacich said of Taylor, who also finished with 12 rebounds and six steals. ”She is a very physical player and is such a force going to the basket.”
After Danielle McHugh ended Wantagh’s 0-0 run with a three-pointer that put Seaford up 40-39, Taylor answered with a long-range shot of her own beyond the arc that gave the Warriors the lead for good. Then clinging to a one-point lead with under a minute to go, Taylor forced a steal and went coast-to-coast for a layup that made it 44-41.
Freshman guard Skylar Mondelli converted two free throws with eight seconds left to ice the win. She finished with 10 points.
“We have always been told to not give up and make sure that we have more heart than the other team and that we do all the little things,” said Taylor, a reigning All-County player who will play college women’s lacrosse at Northwestern next year. “The win felt so good especially with everything that has been going on with Covid and that we were able to stick together and work together.”
A 10- 2 Seaford run between late in the third quarter into the final period gave the Vikings a 37-29 lead. Sophomore guard Amanda Williamson delivered six points during Seaford's run including two straight baskets early in the fourth quarter before Wantagh closed with a 17-4 spurt.
Seaford raced out to a 9-0 lead to open the game and led 18-14 at halftime. The Vikings were led by 11 points apiece from Brooke Surace and Alexandria Leggio.
“It’s a tough loss,” first-year Seaford head coach Stephanie Bartkus said. “We knew Madison Taylor would be tough to stop and she came out hard in the fourth quarter.”
Wantagh (3-1 Conference A-V) and Seaford (2-1) will square off in a rematch on Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. on the Vikings’ home floor. The Warriors, who were without second-leading scorer Juliana Cerasi Wednesday due to an illness, have been battling short-handed for much of the season after losing co-captain Ava Kornbluth and Julia Allen to injuries.
“For me that is one of the more satisfying victories we have had in our program in years,” Bujacich said. “We have had some big playoff wins but for the regular season that is up there.”