Risa Zucker, please come down and accept your MVP award. Risa Zucker?
“When they announced my name, I was getting changed,” Zucker said. “It was embarrassing. But whatever, I just shake it off.”
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Just as she shook off defenders Thursday night to attack the rim and seal Oceanside’s 41-35 win over South Side.
Zucker scored eight of her 12 points in the fourth quarter to earn MVP of the South Side Holiday Tournament. But when the announcer called her up to receive the award, Zucker was sitting on the gym floor, putting her sweatpants on. Everyone waited. Her teammates laughed. A fan in the crowd shouted that the video was going on YouTube.
“Bad timing,” she said with a laugh.
Her timing during the game, though, was perfect.
Zucker hit a runner in traffic and then made a spin move in the paint for the layup to open a 30-20 lead with 4:49 left. Sami Bloecker (nine points) followed with an acrobatic layup to cap a 10-0 run.
“It was a good feeling hitting those shots,” Bloecker said, “and having everybody cheering for us.”
South Side fans were the ones cheering first. Jourdin Thomas, who had nine points, made a save along the baseline and drained a corner three that helped the Cyclones open a 12-3 lead.
Oceanside switched to a 1-2-2 zone and held South Side scoreless in the second. A runner by Cassie Cesario and a layup in transition by Zucker capped a 10-0 run for a 15-12 halftime lead. “It was all hustle and heart,” said Cesario, who had 10 points.
Laura McNally’s three with 1:01 left pulled South Side within 33-30. But Cesario and Zucker then drained their free throws to close it out. Jamie Behar, Oceanside’s 6-1 eighth grader, had five points, seven rebounds and two blocks. Sabrina Seeger grabbed nine rebounds, seven offensive. Courtney Capobianco blocked four shots.
But it was Zucker who walked away with the MVP award . . . eventually. The high-energy guard is known for her tenacious defense and her ability to read passing lanes and tip passes.
For each tipped pass, and other key contributions, Oceanside coach Jason Manning gives players a gold star next to their name on a board in their locker room. Particularly memorable moments from the game earn players a sticker of a basketball.
“Zucker already has a season’s worth of stars,” Manning said. “Now she’s getting a basketball sticker for getting dressed while receiving the MVP award.”