As a three-point shot swished through the basket three minutes into the fourth quarter, Commack’s Jillian Spagnuola spun around and pumped her fist.
It signaled the realization that the shots that weren’t falling in the first half suddenly couldn’t miss. Spagnuola scored 20 of the team’s final 25 points and spurred the host Cougars to a 61-55 win over Ward Melville on Tuesday night. She had 23 points.
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“Nothing was really falling for me in the first half, and I was getting a little down on myself,” Spagnuola said. “But I brought myself back to it and I just felt it.”
She scored 13 of 14 points during part of the stretch that spanned the final two quarters and sparked Commack’s return from a four-point deficit in the first half to a six-point victory.
“I knew I had to turn it on to help my teammates and just overall change the energy on our team,” Spagnuola said.
Her streak was punctuated by seemingly non-stop answers from Ward Melville in the fourth, as the Cougars made five baskets and the Patriots made four. Commack pulled away, accenting the win with a buzzer-beating layup from Spagnuola.
“This was our toughest game to date,” junior guard Casey Hearns said. “We came into this game knowing it was going to be really hard to win.”
Hearns started the game with two three-pointers in the first two minutes, which helped the Cougars stay close at the half. She had 20 points and five rebounds.
“I had my night tonight, but any other girl on that court could’ve had their night,” Hearns said.
Ward Melville’s Taylor Tripptree had 14 points, Hannah Lorenzen had 13 and Lauren Hansen had 12. Commack’s Amanda McMahon had eight points, and Lauren Maline had four points and eight rebounds.
Going into halftime, neither team had strung together more than two consecutive baskets. The quick-paced first half, gave way to a more methodical third quarter before the breakout finish.
“We slowed them down on offense, they couldn’t score as quickly and that gave us a chance to get back,” sophomore guard Katie Kelly said.
That chance came, and Spagnuola made it count.