Paris Hodges leads Southampton to second straight Class B title
The opposition knows it should lock in on Paris Hodges. Having watched her deftly dance around basketball courts for years, it's common knowledge: "Stick No. 24!"
But first they have to find her.
Not an easy task, given the quick burst, slick stutter-step dribbles, slippery crossover, and her unrelenting style in driving to the hoop.
Tuesday night was no different. Hodges led Southampton to a second straight Suffolk Class B girls basketball championship as the top-seeded Mariners defeated Center Moriches, 50-33, at Eastport-South Manor.
"The crossover is definitely one of my go-to moves," Hodges, a senior, said. "Not to give away too many secrets, but that's in the bag of tricks."
The 5-9 guard had 15 points, 12 rebounds and four steals to lead Southampton (14-3). Hodges' younger sister Noel added 12 points and three assists -- and also showed off some of the flashy handle that, apparently, runs in the family.
It was perhaps Paris Hodges' defense that was most spectacular. The teams finished the first quarter tied at 8, with Takia Plummer scoring all of Center Moriches' points.
"We made an adjustment and put Paris on her more," Southampton coach Rich Wingfield said. "Playing help defense doesn't work for her. When Paris has to [defend] hard, she takes it as a challenge, and it usually carries over to her offense."
While clamping down on one end, Hodges took off, scoring 10 points in the second quarter as the Mariners seized control with a 16-9 period. Her putback layup 3:59 before intermission gave Southampton a 17-15 lead it didn't relinquish.
Plummer finished with 12 points for No. 2 Center Moriches (12-5). Vanessa Lewis had six.
"A lot of us have known each other since third grade," Paris Hodges said, "and we've been playing together for so long, our chemistry is good. That's one of our strengths."
Cassidy Guida scored 12 points, all on three-pointers, including a shot-clock beater from 30 feet that drew "ohhs" from the crowd in the second quarter. Kesi Goree had nine points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.
"People always say a team is like a family, but with us it's even more true because a bunch of us are actually related," said Cassidy Guida, whose twin sister, Carley, had three rebounds. "That makes these victories even more fun."