SHRUB OAK, N.Y.— After falling short in the championship game of the Slam Dunk Tournament at the Westchester County Center, the Somers Tuskers roared back with two league victories in girls basketball last week.
Their razor-sharp defense propelled the Tuskers to a 46-35 win over host Lakeland on Friday, Jan. 6. It was also a big league win for Somers over the 7-2 Hornets.
The game started slowly for the Tuskers as they trailed 6-2 midway into the first quarter. A run of 18-straight points would do the trick following a timeout, as Somers hopped out to a 22-10 edge at halftime.
“A win is a win,” Somers coach Marc Hattem said. “It was a hard-fought game and kind of sloppy at times, but that’s what league games are. They are battles.”
The focused Tuskers agitated Lakeland’s offense, playing tight on the interior mixed in with a full-court press.
“Colleen Walsh (of Lakeland) is a really good player,” Hattem said. “So we wanted to key in on her. We like to press and get into it defensively, and we did a really good job of that.”
Junior guard Jackie Penzo’s lightning quick moves translated into a game-high 17 points. A swift left-handed layup on a drive from the top of the key gave Somers a 31-18 lead during the middle of the third quarter.
“Jackie is so quick coming off the pick and roll,” Hattem said. “It was there today because they were guarding Hannah [Angelini] so tight. That’s Jackie’s game.”
The pesky Hornets reached within 11 points after Alexa Cole found Kelsey Walsh on the block for a layup to end the third quarter.
But the maturing Tuskers slammed the door shut in the fourth, as junior Liv Lipski’s 3-pointer rolled in after drawing back-iron to extend the advantage to 13 points early in the fourth.
“We talk a lot about runs and trying to build our lead to put the other team away,” Hattem said. “The girls’ effort is always great. But we are young and have some mental lapses, though we are so athletic on defense.”
Sophomore Hannah Angelini put the icing on the cake, stalling time off the clock before bursting for an easy layup to make the score 48-25 with just two minutes left.
“Hannah is slowly becoming a star in Section 1,” Hattem said. “She had to do a lot of fighting through screens and she never complains. She is a wonderful kid, and her effort always stands out. She didn’t have her typical game, but she did great.”
Angelini finished with 13 points and freshman point guard Dani DiCintio pitched in with eight. Lipski notched six points while senior Faith Anne Ferguson scored two points.
Pulling away in the second half of Wednesday’s 49-39 home victory over Walter Panas, the Tusker defense sparkled again.
Somers (7-4) buried a total of 10 3-pointers as a unit, while Angelini paved the way with 16 points. DiCintio tallied 14 points, while Lipski produced nine.
Penzo put up five points and Tina Hebeisen scored four points off the bench.
“We work really hard and close out on defense,” Penzo said. “We don’t let anything come to the middle or in the post. It helps because we are a small team that doubles and plays aggressive.”
Somers will take part in the Yorktown tournament this week. The Tuskers take on Mount Vernon in the opening round at noon on Jan. 14. Two days later, the championship game is slated for 7 p.m. with the consolation contest at 3 p.m.