For Sachem East, every game is important.
Whether it's the first contest of the season or Friday night's Suffolk overall championship game, the goal is to respect every opponent.
It wasn't the first time the two squads met, as Sachem East won a Dec. 12 matchup, 59-47. Although the margin of victory was the same, the game had a different feel as the Flaming Arrows faced a hungrier and improved Southampton team.
"We played them in a non-league game, but you can't take that into consideration because it was early in the season," Sachem East junior guard Kathleen Everson said. "They've gotten better."
Everson had a career-high 25 points to go with six rebounds, Katie Doherty chipped in 13 points and eight rebounds and Emily Carmel had eight points.
The Flaming Arrows got contributions from several of their role players, too. Sammy Drake had six rebounds, two steals and two blocks and Christina Schretzman scored all six of her points in the fourth quarter.
"They played a good zone against us. We tried to spread the court," Doherty said. "If our shooters had the shots, they were open to take them."
The statistics validated Doherty's assessment; Sachem East had 13 assists on its 18 field goals.
Sachem East (20-2) looked as if it would run away with the game in the third when Carmel hit a three-pointer with 2:33 left in the quarter for a 37-22 lead.
But Southampton (18-4) kept coming. Kesi Goree's six points and two assists sparked a 16-9 run in the third and fourth quarters that cut the deficit to 46-38 with 3:13 to play.
"I don't think there was any panic," Doherty said of Southampton's late run. "I think we just let down a little bit and we had to pick ourselves back up."
She added, "We know they have very good defense. They're tough and physical. Their guards were quick and their bigs were going to fight hard down low."
Friday night's contest was the type of game that Sachem East hopes will keep the momentum going.
"In tournaments like this, you always have to win a dangerous game," Sachem East coach Matt Brison said. "And to have a game like this where everything's not going your way, but at the same time you know you're going to walk out of it, it's good to get that from under your belt."