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Bears a Step Closer to 6th Straight County Title

February 20, 2011

With a 40-21 victory over Southold yesterday afternoon the girls basketball team won their 8th straight Suffolk County playoff game since 2006 and gave themselves a chance to hang a 6th straight County Championship banner on the walls of Swanson.  The Clippers fought our girls basket for basket in the 1st half, but once our offense found its stride and our defense sank in its teeth our east end adversaries were no match for the blue and white.

1st Quarter

The opening minutes were forgettable for both teams as turnovers and missed shots plagued each side.  Southold finally broke the ice with 3:52 left in the frame, then scored on their next possession to take an early 4-0 lead.  The Bears did not light their side of the scoreboard until 1:45 remained as Danielle Pappas drove, drew a foul and connected on 1 of 2 free throws.  Keara Vancol followed with a free throw on the next possession to cut the deficit to 2, but the Brook was in need of something to galvanize them after a lackluster opening period.  Jess Winston provided the spark by stealing the ball from the Clippers’ point guard, drawing a foul on the ensuing fast break and hitting both free throws to tie the game.  Winston nearly stole the ball on the very next Southold possession and, despite not scoring a field goal during the 1st 8 minutes, the girls carried some momentum into the next period. | 4-4

2nd Quarter

Both sides traded blows for much of the 2nd quarter.  Southold scored 1st, but Brannon Burke hit 2 free throws to tie the game shortly after.  After the Clippers took back the lead, 7th grader Ariana Odom drilled a big 3-pointer for the Brook, their 1st field goal of the game, at the 4:34 mark to give her team a 9-8 edge.  After a Southold free throw tied the game Burke, who had struggled early with her shot, connected on 3 straight jumpers to give the Bears a 15-12 lead.  Southold swished a 3-pointer to leave the game deadlocked at 15 at intermission.  Though the game was tied, there was the feeling that our offense would awake and our defense would lock down the Clippers in the 2nd half. | 15-15

3rd Quarter

The 4th best defense in Suffolk County proved itself as the 2nd half began by stifling the Southold attack, limiting them to a mere point in the 3rd quarter while our offense dropped in 11.  Burke and Odom each connected on jumpers to start the quarter then Winston hit 2 free throws to extend the lead to 21-15 before the Clippers scored their 1 point of the quarter on a free throw.  It was then that perhaps the most exciting moment of the game occurred as Natalie Istrati, who was on crutches all of last week with a possible stress fracture, checked into the game and had an immediate impact on both defense and the boards.  Odom closed the quarter with 2 huge baskets, hitting a 3-pointer and a jumper on consecutive possessions to give her 7 in the 3rd and help the bears to a 10 point lead as they entered the final frame. | 26-16

4th Quarter

Any hopes of a Clipper rally were snuffed out by a steal from Burke and powerful swat from Istrati to begin the period.  Burke scored the 1st 8 points of the quarter for the Bears on a jumper, 4 free throws and a layup.  Winston continued to spearhead the defense by relentlessly pestering the point guard, allowing the Clippers just 6 points in the 2nd half to the Bears’ 25. | 40-21

A game tied at halftime could have been anyone’s to run away with, but Southold scored just one point in the third quarter and couldn’t make up the difference in a 40-21 loss to The Stony Brook School on Saturday in a Suffolk Class C girls’ basketball semifinal game.

Southold (7-11, 6-6) played Stony Brook to a 15-15 tie at halftime, bolstered by 10 points from senior Sarah Smith in what was otherwise a cold-shooting first half for both teams. But the difference in the second half, as Stony Brook’s Jessica Winston focused all her defensive energy on Smith – who didn’t score again in the game – was that the Bears’ offense warmed up.

~ The North Fork Patch

Impressions

Having defeated the Clippers less than a week ago in overtime we knew we were in for a battle, as indicated by the 1st half.  However, what separates our girls from many other teams is their ability to shackle an offense.  Our scoring sputtered in the early minutes of the game and it was our defense that both kept us in the game early and allowed us to create a double-digit lead in the 2nd half.  In 2 games vs. Southold during the regular season we gave up an average of 33 points per game, yet held them to just 21 in this contest by keeping their best player scoreless in the 2nd half.  Winston had a huge part in this win with her ability to play pressure defense on the Clipper ball handlers and her fantastic leadership of the offense.  This may have been the hardest Burke has ever worked for 20 points, but she showed her toughness by overcoming an early shooting funk and a barrage of uncalled fouls to lead the offense.  Odom, our resident 12-year-old, was absolutely huge today.  Each one of her 4 jumpers was a timely strike that gave our scoring attack a much needed spark.  Vancol and Pappas played great defense as well and Vancol ruled the boards, limiting Southold’s 2nd chance opportunities in the 2nd half.  It was a great win and one that should give the girls confidence going into the County Championship Tuesday 2/22 vs. Pierson/Bridgehampton at St. Joseph’s College @ 5pm.

The seniors may have led the charge, but it was a pair of underclassmen – seventh grader Ariano Odom and sophomore Keara Vancol – who filled in some of the gaps. Odom scored the last five points of Stony Brook’s 11-1 third quarter run, which pretty much put the game away, and finished with 10 points and 9 rebounds.

“She made some great shots and some great moves,” Burke said of her teammate. “Just to see her develop, it’s been very rewarding to watch.”

The six-foot-tall Vancol ended the game with 20 rebounds, stepping up in place of injured senior starter Natalie Istrati. Istrati had been cleared to return after suffering a muscle injury but only played a few minutes on Saturday.

“I was really excited about Keara,” Helm said. “She’s made some great strides and adjustments with Natalie being out. That’s great for our team as a whole.”

~ The Three Village Patch

Highlights

  • Burke scores a tough runner | Watch
  • Odom hits a 3-pointer | Watch
  • Burke’s post-game comments | Watch
  • Odom’s post-game comments | Watch

Box Score

  • Burke | 20 points/7 rebounds
  • Odom | 10 points/9 rebounds/2 3-pointers
  • Winston | 8 points/7 assists
  • Pappas | 1 point
  • Vancol | 1 point/23 rebounds

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