The old adage at tournament time is “survive and advance.” That’s exactly what the Sewanhaka Lady Indians did in the opening round of the Nassau County Class A girls’ basketball playoffs last Saturday afternoon.
Senior guard Shantell McCall scored 28 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, and freshman Daniella Weinschreider added a career-high 22 points as No. 7 Sewanhaka knocked off No. 10 Jericho, 71-61. Senior Amanda Levenberg led Jericho with 17 points. The Lady Indians advanced to the second round where they were to meet No. 2 Wantagh on Wednesday evening after presstime.
With Jenny Pechacek, Katlyn Dempsey, and others providing strong minutes off the bench, Sewanhaka’s depth played a big part in the win. “One thing I told the girls after the game was that this was a family win,” Sewanhaka head coach Alex Soupios said. “Some played a lot and some played a little, but everybody played and everybody contributed to this win.”
The visiting Lady Jayhawks made it clear right from the get-go Sewanhaka would be in for a fight. An 8-2 Jericho run to close out the opening quarter gave the Lady Jayhawks a 16-14 lead. McCall had nine points in the first quarter.
The Lady Indians scored the first eight points of the second quarter, but each time they appeared set to pull away, Jericho would bury a long three or get on a run. The half ended on a tremendous drive to the basket by point guard Daniella Ford, who gave Sewanhaka a 36-30 lead at the break.
Ford’s basket would serve as a harbinger. The sophomore point guard was sensational in the second half. While McCall was lighting it by slashing to the basket and finishing, and Weinschreider, who hit five three-point baskets, was on fire from the perimeter, Ford was running the offense, putting teammates in position to score, and was the first to get on the floor after loose balls.
Ford, who finished with nine points, seven assists and five rebounds, got high praise from her coach. “Daniella Ford does all the little things that help this team win games,” Soupios said. “She doesn’t always light up the scoreboard, but she gets the rebounds, assists, and makes big shots when we need them. Daniella has embraced the role of being quarterback of the offense, and she’s the toughest player on the team.”
In the third quarter, Sewanhaka extended its lead to 14 points, but an 11-2 run got Jericho within striking distance at 51-46 with 2:30 to play in the quarter.
A free throw by Ford made the score 69-52 midway through the final quarter, but Jericho wouldn’t quit. The Lady Jayhawks went on a 9-0 run to cut the lead to eight points, but they couldn’t get any closer. Freshman forward Casey Hayes added eight points for the Lady Indians.
Soupios is looking forward to the quarterfinals. “Wantagh has size on the inside and a lot of good shooters,” Soupios. “We have two or three days to prepare for them, so we’ll have them ready.”