Melissa Rogers, Nicole Busso lead Southold past Port Jefferson in playoff win
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Up a point and possessing the ball with four seconds left, the plan was simply to throw a long inbounds pass from the baseline and brace for an intentional foul.
But, c'mon, for a fourth quarter so wild, that scenario would've been too mundane.
Instead, Southold's Melissa Rogers uncoiled a throw that was a tad high -- about 40 feet -- that deflected off a suspension beam above the gymnasium.
"Oh, no! Oh, no!" Rogers thought to herself, fearing that in an instant she had gone from hero to "the person whose fault it was that we lost."
Port Jefferson threw its inbounds pass into the low post, but Rogers, hands up, forced a difficult layup that fell short. The loose ball was knocked about and rolled harmlessly in the paint as time expired.
Buzzer . . . phew!
And with that, Southold held on to win, 65-64, Wednesday night in a Suffolk Class C girls basketball semifinal. The Settlers will face Stony Brook or Pierson/Bridgehampton on Friday, 5 p.m. at Center Moriches.
"I'm glad it ended how it did," said Southold's Nicole Busso, who had 24 points and 16 rebounds. "It would've been hard on Melissa, especially since she's gutting it out for us... She's the most mentally tough person on this team."
Rogers, a 5-11 forward, scored 18 points and had three blocks and two steals in the fourth quarter for No. 3 Southold (10-6). This, after missing the previous five games with knee tendinitis and a partially torn patella tendon. "I pushed myself to come back," Rogers said, "and I'm glad I did."
She teamed with Busso, a 5-10 center, to dominate the post. With No. 2 Port Jefferson hitting jumpers left and right, the duo went underneath, Settlers coach Joe Read said.
Busso (12) and Rogers totaled 23 of Southold's 28 second-half points. Carley Staples scored eight points and Justina Babcock added seven.
Olivia Racanelli scored 17 points to lead Port Jefferson (10-8), which had split two games with Southold in the regular season. Courtney Lewis added 12 points and Rachel London had 10.
Southold led 37-34 at halftime -- after a back-and-forth second quarter that included seven lead changes -- and took control early in the fourth. Rogers' free throw put the Settlers up 61-50 with 4:33 left, but Port Jefferson charged back, as it did in a comeback victory in the teams' Jan. 3 meeting.
Racanelli hit two three-pointers in the final 21 seconds, including an off-balance, 28-footer that brought the Royals within one with four seconds left . . . preceding the nearly-infamous inbounds.