A playoff spot could be on the line a few weeks down the road when Nassau Conference AA-II girls’ basketball rivals Valley Stream Central and East Meadow meet for a second time.
Central pulled away in the first meeting Jan. 15, winning 64-42 at home to move into a third-place tie at the midway mark of the conference schedule. Senior Katie Dascher poured in 21 points and junior Brianna Hendrick added 15 points and 17 rebounds for the Lady Eagles, who won back-to-back games for the first time this season and evened their mark in AA-II to 3-3. The Lady Jets (2-4 in AA-II), who had starting junior point guard Marrol Cajoles leave late in the first quarter with a pulled quad muscle, got 10 points from junior Nicole Moniello and eight from senior Jen Gundrum.
“We started a little slow but then we just clicked after the first quarter,” VSC coach Mary Parisi said. “We talked about cutting down on turnovers and being aggressive on defense, especially against [Gundrum]. It was as complete an effort as we’ve had all season.”
Central’s ability to control the boards played a big role in the outcome, East Meadow coach Bethany LeSueur said. “They did a great job rebounding,” LeSueur said. “Boxing out is part technique and part toughness. Of their 28 points in the first half, I think about 20 came off an offensive rebound.”
The Lady Eagles, who went 13-for-16 from the foul line, led 28-21 at halftime. They were sparked in the second quarter by sophomores Naomi Bolasingh (14 points) and Kendall Jones. After Gundrum opened the quarter with a layup to give the Lady Jets a 12-10 lead, Bolasingh scored on three straight possessions, converting four free throws and a field goal, and the hosts took the lead for good. Jones scored four of her six points in the quarter and grabbed 10 rebounds on the night.
“I think beating Port Washington gave us the confidence we needed,” said Parisi, referring to her team’s 51-44 win on Jan. 11 that snapped a three-game slide. “Before that we played the two strongest teams [Baldwin and MacArthur] back-to-back,” she added. “We’re a pretty young team, and it looks like we’re starting to come around.”
Dascher had 15 points in the second half, including a dozen from three-point range. “She’s a good shooter who’s been on target the past two games,” Parisi said of Dascher, who hit three shots from behind the arc against Port Washington and totaled 11 points.
Moniello and junior Kristina Sanicola (six points, 12 rebounds) tried to keep East Meadow close, but the absence of Cajoles hurt at both ends of the floor. “I thought initially she twisted her knee,” LeSueur said of Cajoles. “Fortunately it’s not that or the ankle, but she’s still hurting and we’ll see how she feels. She’s an aggressive player we need out there.”