East Meadow advanced to the quarterfinals of the Class AA girls’ basketball playoffs on the shoulders of a veteran and rising star.
Senior Emily Shurina and sophomore Danielle Hippner each scored 19 points to lead the sixth-seeded Lady Jets to a 44-25 first-round win against No. 11 Plainview-JFK on Feb. 15.
“To have two players put up 38 points, that’s a pretty good thing,” said East Meadow head coach Pete Olenik of his scoring duo.
Up 22-13 at halftime, East Meadow (12-8) extended the nine-point lead to 22 points by the end of the third quarter, as Shurina and Hippner traded baskets back and forth throughout the period. Both scored six points during the eight-minute stretch while the Jets’ defense held the Hawks to three points.
The Lady Jets cruised to victory despite struggling with more than a dozen turnovers in the game. They hit their stride in the third period, though, with crisper passing and rebounding, enabling Shurina and Hippner to get into an offensive flow.
“We held them to a three-point third quarter, and basically that was it,” Olenik said. “But we turned the ball over a little too much.”
Shurina, a fifth-year varsity starter and an All-County selection the past three seasons, played her final game on home court. The moment wasn’t lost on her, and she was satisfied with her play and the outcome, although she believes there is always room for improvement.
“It was just a really good game,” she said. “It was up-tempo and had a lot of energy, and was just really fun to play.”
The Lady Jets won both regular-season games against Conference AA-II rival Plainview-JFK, 41-28, on the road Jan. 10, in which Hippner scored 17 points, and 46-33 at home on Jan. 27, when Shurina dropped 12.
Meadow was scheduled to travel to Massapequa (12-7) on Tuesday, after press time, to play the Conference AA-I team in a quarterfinal showdown. The winner advances to the semifinals at SUNY Old Westbury on Saturday.
The Lady Jets hosted a rare first-round home playoff game last season when they defeated Calhoun, but lost to eventual county champions Baldwin in the second round. Heading into this season, Olenik wanted to at least return to the playoffs and possibly host another first-round game. The Lady Jets came in third in the conference behind first-place Baldwin and Hicksville, and he got his wish.
“Our main goal coming into the season was to make it to the neutral site, which would only happen if we made it to the semifinals or finals,” he said. “So we’re in the quarterfinals now at Massapequa, and we’re one step away from our goal to go to a neutral site.”
Shurina, the program’s all-time leading scorer, is 17 points shy of 1,500 career points. Olenik has called Hippner, an All-Conference selection last season, the most developed player on the squad this season, excelling especially as a shot blocker and rebounder.