Juggling the lineup has been a constant for Elmont girls’ basketball head coach Pete Lawson, who was forced to make another adjustment prior to last Friday’s Conference A2 clash with Kennedy after leading scorer and rebounder Charlotte Hines went down with an injury in the previous game.
However, the Spartans still managed to win for the fifth time in six games and stayed mathematically alive for the conference title by completing a season sweep of the Cougars, 42-32. Senior Taylah Farquharson netted a game-high 14 points and senior Chi Chi Chukuezi stepped up for the missing Hines and tied a season high with 12 points and helped Elmont (11-6 overall, 7-2 in A1) dominate the boards.
Gianna Costaro, one of two seniors on Kennedy’s roster, posted a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Sophomore Jolie Yablon added 9 points for the Cougars, who slipped to 4-12 overall and 2-6 in A1.
“Our play has been a little up and down but we’ve lost to some strong teams,” Lawson said. “I don’t want to put the blame on absences because every team deals with injuries. We’re just trying to survive and take it game by game.
“The nice thing is we had some girls return recently and we’ve got a deep roster,” he added. “Everyone has given us quality minutes.”
Hines, a sophomore forward who according to Lawson is out indefinitely after suffering an injury late in a 55-38 win over Sewanhaka Jan. 21 following a 19-point effort, would’ve been the focus of Kennedy’s defensive game plan, head coach Mallory Freely said.
“She had a big game against us the first time and we worked on some things in practice to stop her, but she didn’t play,” Freely said of Hines, who scored 15 points in Elmont’s come-from-behind 46-39 win in the first meeting Dec. 20.
“We’re very young and competing every game,” she added. “Scoring has been an issue. We’ve been right there in a bunch of games but just couldn’t close them out.”
The Cougars struggled offensively in the first half last Friday and dug a 20-9 halftime deficit. Chukuezi got involved early and often for the hosts, scoring 7 points in the opening quarter and 4 more in the second to account for more than half of Elmont’s points.
Farquharson and classmate Anaise Novembre helped the Spartans extend their lead in the third quarter, combining for 12 points with the former scoring 8. Kennedy countered with some smooth free throws from sophomore Tristan Montalbano, who poured in 20 points to lead a recent victory over Roslyn.
“We’ve shown glimpses of what we’re capable of,” Freely said. “The Roslyn game was wonderful. We hit 11 three-pointers.”
The Cougars were also shorthanded as promising sophomore center Ashley St. Surin, who averages 7.5 points and leads the effort on the glass along with Costaro, was unable to play. She’ll be back this week to take on Great Neck North and South Side.
Elmont welcomed Kyla Moore, a sophomore who missed 14 games, and junior Cassidy Grannum, back into the rotation.
“It would be nice to go into the playoffs with a full lineup,” Lawson said.