Sarah Simmons scores 15 points to lead Northport girls' victory
How forgetful that Sarah Simmons can be.
Simmons said, coming into the season, her coaches suggested she work on taking the ball to the basket as often as possible. She started doing so with such regularity that before Friday night's game her coach reminded her that she also has an outside shot and should remember to take it when available.
Forget that! Simmons cut through the lane and attacked the basket with ease, scoring 15 points and lifting host Northport to a 43-31 win over Sachem North in League II.
"I was just having fun driving," she said. "Looking back, I probably should have shot a little bit more because I think I did have a few looks. But now that I have my driving down, I'll work on my shot."
The grand total of outside shots she took Friday night, you ask? One, a jumper that she swished from the right wing early in the second quarter. The remainder of her points -- 12 -- came off dribble drives (one was at the foul line).
Defenses try to take away Simmons' driving ability by stuffing the paint. She overcame that quickly, knifing through the lane and converting the easy layup to open the scoring for the first of 16 unanswered Tigers' points. The run was capped when Lizzy Atkinson found Emily Robarge for a layup in transition to give Northport a 16-0 lead midway through the first.
Atkinson and Robarge each finished with eight points. Emma Morrison added six points and 14 rebounds. Shayla Cosgrove led Sachem North with seven points.
Atkinson, a senior captain, has followed in the footsteps of her older sister -- Leah Kepping, one of the program's most talented players -- as the Tigers' point guard and floor general.
"I'm always striving to fill her shoes," said Atkinson, who added four assists. "Sometimes my coach says, 'When I look at you out there, I think you're Leah.' So that's a great compliment."
Robarge, who had eight points, banked in a three from the right wing to open a 41-21 lead for Northport with 6:05 remaining in the fourth. Sachem North then went on a 10-0 run, capped when a cutting Eve Calabria converted a layup off a feed from Annie Keenan with 2:40 remaining.
But the trapping Northport defense forced late turnovers to help seal the win.
The fact that Simmons didn't remember the pregame advice given to her was all but forgotten by her coach after the game.
"It opens up the defense when she takes the outside shot," Northport coach Rich Castellano said of Simmons. "But she showed tonight why she's the best on the team at driving to the hoop."
She won't let anyone forget it.