As the favorite to repeat as champions in Suffolk Class B girls basketball, playing against a difficult non-league schedule was important for Southampton. The core players are in their fourth season together and to advance upstate, they will likely have to get past powerhouse Irvington, which has won three consecutive state Class B girls basketball championships.
Southampton, the defending Long Island Class B champion, faced another tough opponent Saturday and defeated Lindenhurst, 38-33, in the Suffolk Coaches Classic at Suffolk CC-Selden. Sisters Paris Hodges and Noel Hodges each scored 12 points and Cassidy Guida scored nine for Southampton (2-2). Val Oyakhilome led Lindenhurst (2-1) with 20 points.
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"It's great preparation for the playoffs," Paris Hodges said. "I thought we played pretty well. The defense was very good and we knew Val would give us trouble."
Southampton took the lead for good on a three-pointer by Guida with 5:18 left in the game to make it 32-29. Paris Hodges followed with a three-pointer to extend the lead to 35-29.
"We played extremely well on defense," Southampton coach Rich Wingfield said. "We didn't have our 'A' game offensively, but we never backed down defensively and we did it without committing fouls."
Southampton led 28-20 late in the third quarter when Oyakhilome hit a three-pointer and another three-pointer early in the fourth. Alexis Purdue capped a 9-1 run with a three-pointer to tie the score at 29 with 6:21 left before Southampton pulled away.
Lindenhurst didn't score in the second quarter until Oyakhilome hit a three-pointer with 1:36 left. Lindenhurst closed the half on an 8-2 run with all the points from Oyakhilome to slice the deficit to 19-17.
Southampton lost to Irvington 74-41 in the Southeast Regional final last season. Southampton opened with a six-point loss to Whitman, one of the Suffolk Class AA favorites, and a 23-point loss to Long Island Lutheran, one of the best teams on the Island.
"We want to try and go upstate," Paris Hodges said. "Who wouldn't?"