Makeda Nicholas, Brianna Jones lead North Babylon girls
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Makeda Nicholas has played every position for North Babylon this season. Most of the time, the 6-2 junior can exploit teams inside.
Nicholas was often seeing two or three Smithtown West players guarding her Thursday, so she was moved to point guard late in the third quarter.
It was the spark North Babylon needed. Nicholas had 10 points, 12 rebounds, six blocked shots, five assists and Brianna Jones had 10 of her 16 points in the fourth quarter as North Babylon rallied to defeat host Smithtown West, 57-39, in Suffolk League III girls basketball. Jalen Powell had nine points and five assists and Kennethah Harden added nine points and 18 rebounds for North Babylon (10-1, 8-0). Jessica Meyers scored 18 for Smithtown West (4-8, 4-4).
North Babylon outscored Smithtown West 25-6 in the fourth quarter to pull away.
"It's easier for me to see over the defense," Nicholas said. "They were triple-teaming me in the middle and I needed to get my teammates the ball."
She did and it energized the defense, too. North Babylon trailed 30-18 in the third quarter before closing the quarter on a 14-3 run capped by a Powell three-pointer to pull within 33-32. Jones gave North Babylon the lead for good on a three-point play to open the fourth quarter.
"The first half was tough," Jones said. "We weren't playing our game. It was our energy. We needed to pick it up. Once we got on a roll we kept going."
Did they ever. Jones capped a 16-0 run off a pass from Nicholas to push the Bulldogs' lead to 43-33 and later the combo connected again as Nicholas drove the lane and made a great pass to Jones for a three-point play. Both players are getting a lot of Division I interest.
"We finally put it together and played like a team," Nicholas said. "We came through at the end. We responded really well. I am glad we got through the test to pull out the win."
Said North Babylon coach Debbie Brajevich: "The fourth quarter was our team. I don't know what the other three quarters were. I give credit to Smithtown West. Nicholas is a force. I had to find her a place to make her successful and it was at point guard in this game."