Stony Brook girls clang in warm-ups, then click in Class C title game
Stony Brook couldn't buy a basket -- jumpers clanging off the back rim and easy layups falling short. There were enough bricks to turn the Center Moriches gym into a construction site.
But we're talking about warm-ups, not the game.
"That actually happens to us a lot," freshman Ariana Odom said. "But we haven't let it psych us out. Warm-ups and games are completely different."
Apparently, they were just getting warmed up. When the shots mattered, they fell, as Odom and Keara Vancol each scored 15 points to lead the Bears in a 56-39 win over defending champion Southold on Friday to capture the Suffolk Class C girls basketball title.
"I think some of it was nerves," said Vancol, who also had 14 rebounds. "Once the ball got tipped, we got focused. We wanted to wear these [championship] T-shirts."
Top-seeded Stony Brook led from start to finish, and Mikaela Stiklickas' jumper had them up 49-28 with 6:41 remaining.
"I don't know what happens, but when it's game time, we know how to put 'em in," said Madison Rylands, who scored 13 points, including three three-pointers. "I think the competition makes us thrive."
See, all it took was the distraction of screaming fans, defenders' hands in their faces and the pressure of a championship game.
Rylands scored eight points in the second quarter as the Bears (13-4) took control, and they pulled away with a 21-8 third quarter, sparked by Odom's nine points.
Ali Rothaar had eight points for the Bears, who will face the "B" champ in the Suffolk B-C game Feb. 22.
Nicole Busso scored 11 points for No. 3 Southold (11-7). Melissa Rogers, Justina Babcock and Michaela Christman each added five. The teams split two regular-season games, with the Settlers giving Stony Brook its only loss in League VIII.
The Bears use a four-guard lineup, anchored by the 6-foot Vancol at center, and they created mismatches with the 5-11 Odom playing point guard. Vancol's eight first-half points helped draw the defense inside and open the perimeter, and Odom scored 12 after intermission. She also had seven assists.
"We know if they collapse on anyone, we can just pass it around," Odom said. "We're confident someone's going to knock it down."
Only when it counts.