Eight days after playing its worst half of the season and suffering a 31-point blowout loss at Mepham, a complete team effort lifted Long Beach to a 41-36 upset victory in the rematch last Friday that kept it in contention for the Nassau Conference AA-III girls’ basketball title.
Eighth-grader Aislinn Flynn had 12 points and 12 rebounds, and junior Perri Steiner added 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Lady Marines, who improved to 7-2 in conference play and 8-4 overall while handing the Lady Pirates (8-1, 10-2) their first conference defeat in more than a year. Mepham got a game-high 13 points from senior Samantha Hishmeh and a dozen from sophomore Megan Anderson, who missed the second half with a bruised knee.
“It’s one of the biggest wins we’ve had in a while,” Long Beach coach Kristin Ciccone said. “I’m so proud of the girls. This is going to do so much for their confidence. The first time we played Mepham, it was never a game. But we made defensive adjustments, and the girls carried out the plan to perfection.”
Mepham, which scored the first 16 points of the Jan. 17 matchup and cruised to an easy 57-26 victory on the strength of a dozen three-pointers, had a chance to force overtime \th a few seconds remaining but freshman Allyson Murphy’s trey attempt clanged off the rim. Senior Molly Martin (eight points) corralled the rebound for Long Beach and sealed the win with a pair of free throws with 1.2 seconds left.
“Going on the road, I knew this game would be a lot closer than the first one,” Mepham coach Jim Mulvey said. “We had our worst shooting night of the season, and we didn’t rebound. I thought their bigs, Steiner and Flynn, did a tremendous job.”
The Lady Pirates took a 30-28 lead into the fourth quarter after senior Christina Riebl converted a pass from Murphy for a basket late in the third. The margin was three when Long Beach senior Mary McDonagh tied it with a basket and free throw with 7:20 left. Flynn put the hosts back in front with a short hook shot, and her rebound off a missed foul shot led to a key basket by junior Lena Moriarty that made it 35-31.
“Our defense and rebounding made the difference,” Ciccone said. “We knew we had to go zone against them.”
A Hishmeh three-pointer brought Mepham within one, but the Lady Marines took over after she fouled out with 2:29 to play. They scored six of the game’s final eight points, including two free throws by junior Shauna Spruell and a basket by McDonagh following Steiner’s rebound of a missed free throw.
The outcome dropped Mepham into a first-place tie with Herricks with five games remaining, including a head-to-head battle Feb. 5. Long Beach sits only a game behind the frontrunners and closes the regular season at home versus Herricks on Feb. 11.