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Alessia Drevnyak scores 23 as East Rockaway tops Wheatley

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On Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, Newsday's Kenny DeJohn spoke with East Rockaway basketball forward / center Alessia Drevnyak after she scored 23 points in a victory against Wheatley. Credit: Newsday / Casey Musarra

As if Alessia Drevnyak could be any more difficult to defend.

East Rockaway’s 6-1 center, known in Nassau for her polished arsenal of post moves, just started shooting from the perimeter this season at the request of her coach, Karin Leary.

So late in the third quarter of Wednesday’s 51-45 win over host Wheatley in Nassau ABC girls basketball, she found herself open on the right wing and made her first three-pointer of the season, increasing the Rocks’ lead to 35-26 and inciting a celebration from the bench.

“I had never shot a three before this year,” said Drevnyak, who had 23 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks. “I’m comfortable shooting, though. I do practice it a lot.”

The senior added a baseline jumper early in the fourth, but most of her damage was done in the paint. Soft touch and quick feet allow her to score easily in the low post.

The nine-point lead provided breathing room for East Rockaway (6-5), but not for long. Led by electric guard Allie LaMonica and her 25 points, Wheatley (1-10) was able to cut the deficit to three at 48-45 with 17 seconds remaining on one of LaMonica’s athletic drives to the basket.

But Kailey Hyland (two points), Juliet McCarthy (10) and Brooke DeGiulio (12) made 5 of 7 free throws in the final seconds to halt the Wildcats’ comeback.

DeGiulio grabbed 13 rebounds, acting as a stabilizer when Drevnyak picked up her second foul with 1:19 remaining in the first quarter. Drevnyak didn’t play at all in the second, leaving DeGiulio to do the heavy lifting.

“We piggyback off each other,” DeGiulio said. “That’s my job.”

Leary said McCarthy, a sharpshooting sophomore guard, also did her job. McCarthy was important in slowing the pace and distributing the ball, making a smart bounce pass to Drevnyak past a Wheatley defender in transition down the stretch in the fourth.

“The defender had her hands up, so I just bounced it,” she said. “I’m comfortable making that pass.”

But the night belonged to Drevnyak, who’s now even more of a nuisance for opposing defenders. Now she’ll beat you from outside, too.

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