YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Yorktown traveled to Walter Panas on Jan. 9, looking to test themselves against a Panther squad that a season ago went to the Section 1 Class A Final Four at the Westchester County Center in White Plains.
The Huskers (6-4, 1-1) initially got off to a slow start, then regained their equilibrium, before Panas took control of the game in the second half, in a 54-34 Panther victory.
Panas started the League II-C contest by going up 13-2, before the Huskers rallied and scored 11 of the game’s next 13 points. Yorktown finished that stretch with a Jesse Barer (8 points) layup, which cut the Panthers’ lead to 15-13 with 6:04 to go in the second quarter.
“The key to our run was hitting a few big shots that helped us build momentum, while getting defensive stops on the other end of the floor,” said Yorktown’s Melissa Severino, who scored a team-high 11 points. “The key to coming back from a run is playing hard on defense.”
Panas followed by going on an 8-2 run before Severino connected on a three-pointer from the right corner to slice the Panther lead to 23-18.
“When I took that shot, I was thinking of how we needed it to fall to build momentum,” Severino said. “Hitting shots always feels good, but I was really just focused on getting back in the game.”
Each team ended the half scoring 4 more points, with Panas taking a 27-22 lead into the break. The final basket of the half came from the Huskers’ Alyssa Giannasca, who made a jumper on the left wing, just inside the three-point line.
Panas took a stranglehold on the game in the third quarter, closing out on a 13-2 run. They took a 44-28 lead into the fourth.
“In that stretch, they were face guarding, which disrupted the offense, and we also struggled with making shots,” Severino said. “In addition, we struggled getting back on defense in transition.”
Two days earlier, Yorktown, propelled by a 28-14 halftime lead, won their league opener, against visiting Brewster 57-50.
“We knew going into the game that it was going to be a fight for all 32 minutes,” Barer said. “We came out aggressively on defense and our press created some opportunities for us. Coach (Brian) Mundy’s continuous intensity was very motivating.”
Brewster, which entered the game 7-1, fought back, cutting Yorktown’s lead to four, 47-43, in the second half, but couldn’t get any closer.
“When our lead got smaller, we knew we had to keep possession and be smart with the ball,” Barer said. “Each time they got closer someone stepped up and made a big play on offense. There was no way we were letting them back in. This game was a great team effort.”
That team effort included production from Barer (17 points, 4 rebounds, 3 deflections, 2 steals), Severino (14 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 steals, 4 deflections), Ashley Zeolla (12 points, 9 rebounds), Giannasca (10 points) and Lindsay Boyle (5 rebounds, 2 steals).
Mundy was particularly proud of his team’s defensive effort.
“Deflections, in general, are a big stat for us,” Mundy said. “We had 12 in that game.”
The Huskers finished their week with a Jan. 13 non-league game at Hendrick Hudson, losing 41-30. Leading the way with 9 points was Zeolla.