When Alex Parlato walks into a sneaker store, she looks for the strangest color available in a women's size 11.
Parlato, looking stylish in her neon green Nike sneakers and purple socks, had 12 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks Thursday night to power Wantagh to a 43-31 win over South Side in a Nassau Conference A-I game.
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Two years ago, she showed up to practice in a pair of bright orange high-tops, officially sparking the latest on-court fashion trend in Wantagh. "Everyone wanted them," she said of her teammates. "Now everyone has them."
Not just bright orange. There's such an assortment of colors that it's hard to find two players on the team with the same-colored sneakers.
But once the 6-4 center laces them up and steps onto the court, she stands out for more than just her flashy footwear. There's her footwork in the post, her consistent outside shot and her ability to put the ball on the floor.
With Wantagh trailing at the half, Parlato shifted to the high post to open things up in the middle and generate more ball movement. Her layup off a feed from Christina Peden (eight points, four assists, teal shoes) to open the third quarter ignited an 18-2 run.
Parlato later kicked the ball out to Nikki Sliwak, whose sneakers were light blue and lime green, for an open jumper and a 20-19 lead.
"Our offense is geared around Alex, but we have other girls who can do things," Wantagh coach Stan Bujacich said of Parlato, who faced double- and triple-teams Thursday night. "That was a good win for us tonight because we found other ways to win and not just rely on her."
Sliwak hit a three that bounced around the rim before falling. Later, Toni Ann Compono, in her royal blue kicks, drained a three to cap the run and open a 32-19 lead.
"We have a good team chemistry," Parlato said. "We've become so much more of a team. We have different angles. It's not one person scoring 30 and one person scoring five. It's all even."
Victoria Mercado led South Side with nine points and Jess Hawley added seven.
Paige Craig, one of only two players on the team with traditional black sneakers, added 10 points, seven rebounds and five steals for Wantagh, which is in first place at 5-0. "We want to get to counties," Craig said. "We're playing as a team and trying to get there together."
As for the team's footwear?
"I wear black because I keep it simple," she said. "But the sneakers bring so much spunk to our team. We've got swag."