SOMERS, N.Y.— Shot after shot, Somers’ girls basketball team kept corralling the rebound to start the second half, resulting in a Liv Lipski runner to take a nine-point lead against Tappan Zee.
The possession set the tone for the rest of the game.
The Tuskers capped off a stellar regular season when the Lady Dutchmen came to town for their senior night with a 59-50 win on Feb. 10.
It was a formidable challenge for the Tuskers heading into sectionals.
“I think TZ is us in a lot of ways,” Somers coach Marc Hattem said. “They like to shoot it, like to get up and down and like to press. I thought this was a great test. They have some talent and we might see them down the road.”
Hattem wasn’t happy with senior Faith Anne Ferguson at halftime and he let her know it. Ferguson responded, finishing with a career-high 12 rebounds, including three offensive rebounds alone on the first possession of the second half.
“I went into the locker room and I never get on Faith Anne,” Hattem said. “I got on her because at the end of the first half she let up a three, so I opened the door and — boom — right into her. And then she comes out and she had three offensive rebounds. It just shows you the character and that set the tone.”
Lipski scored 23 points and made six 3-pointers for the second-straight game.
After a slow start to the season, the junior has been lighting up the scoreboard of late, and it couldn’t come at a better time for the Tuskers with sectionals starting this week.
“When Hannah (Angelini) and Liv get on that page and then you add Jackie (Penzo) and Dani (DiCintio), we could be really scary,” Hattem said. “I thought Dani was great finding Liv for open looks. They’re looking for her now. For shooters, confidence is everything.”
Angelini said the Tuskers are almost impossible to beat when Lipski is shooting the way she has been.
“She’s a lights out three-point shooter,” said Angelini, who added 13 points. “When she’s hitting shots, it opens up the floor for everyone else and it’s a whole team effort. I love these girls.”
Lipski’s bucket following the numerous offensive rebounds to start the second half made it 31-22.
“We were starting off a little slow, but Faith got the rebounds and pulled the ball down,” Lipski said. “There were a lot of deflections, we finally came up with the ball and then scored. We fed off the crowd’s energy.”
Angelini added a bucket of her own, senior Livy Rosenzweig scored and Jackie Penzo’s driving lefty bank-shot made it 37-25 midway through the third quarter.
A Penzo steal and layup followed by another Lipski bomb stretched the lead to 45-28. The Tuskers led 45-31 after three quarters.
A feisty Tappan Zee team battled back in the fourth quarter but another Lipski triple inflated the lead to 55-45 with 1:53 left, putting a comeback out of reach.
“We knew Tappan Zee was going to be a good team,” Angelini said. “They’re probably going to be a good contender for the Class A gold ball. To win it like we did for the seniors in the fashion that we did it was awesome.”
Lipski was also ecstatic to get the win for the two seniors in Rosenzweig and Ferguson, who were honored before the game.
“They’re great seniors and we’re obviously going to miss them a lot,” Lipski said. “They work really hard and have a lot of energy, so being able to decorate the whole entire gym for them and winning was awesome.”
DiCintio (eight points), Rosenzweig (five points), Penzo (five points), Ferguson (three points) and Tina Hebeisen (two points) also chipped in for Somers offensively.
Somers finished the regular season with a 15-5 record and heads into the sectionals on a seven-game winning streak. The Tuskers have defeated many of the top teams ranked in the top 10 in Class A and are hoping to make it past the quarterfinals, where they have fell the last few seasons.
“We just have to work hard and not get in our heads,” Angelini said. “We don’t want to focus too much on the end game. We’re going to focus on the steps to get there, work hard in practice and just make the most of the time we have left on the court.”
The sectionals start with the outbracket round on Feb. 16 and the opening round is two days later. Somers will more than likely host a first round game and a quarterfinal if it advances.
“We just have to stay humble and take it one game at a time,” Lipski said. “We have to keep on playing hard and competing like we are.”