Jessica Bandrowski began the game guarding Locust Valley's leading scorer, Alexis Monserrate. Soon after her defensive assignment was switched late in the first quarter, a timeout was called and Bandrowski pleaded to guard Monserrate again.
It's a good thing for Center Moriches that she got her wish.
Bandrowski limited Monserrate to only three points in a 41-19 victory last night in the Long Island Class B championship/Southeast Regional semifinal at St. Joseph's College.
It is the first LIC for Center Moriches (17-7), which will play Irvington in the Southeast Regional final at 6:15 p.m. Friday at Pace University in Pleasantville. The winner advances to the state semifinals.
"I asked to guard her," Bandrowski said. "She didn't move as much as I thought she was going to move. She wasn't as physical as I thought she would be. I just stepped up and played my defense."
Monserrate scored 30 points in the Nassau Class B championship game and accounted for the bulk of the offense for Locust Valley (12-9) this season. Bandrowski has been the offensive star for the Red Devils in the postseason, but she scored only eight points.
"During timeouts, she was saying, 'Can I have 12 [Monserrate]?' " Center Moriches coach Rich Alifano said. "She was a real leader. She understood I might not get 25 points, but she could lock this girl down on defense. That's what she did and it was real unselfish."
Amber Davis scored 12 points and Kelsey Glanzman had 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Red Devils.
With Center Moriches up by seven, Takia Plummer scored off a pass from Bandrowski to put the Red Devils up 21-12 at halftime.
Center Moriches led 27-18 early in the fourth quarter before pulling away. Davis hit a three-pointer off a pass from Bandrowski, who also fed Loren Smith for a fast-break layup to make it 32-18 with 4:15 left.
Locust Valley scored only seven second-half points, including one in the final 7:40.
"We've been focusing on our defense even more so now in the playoffs," Alifano said. "We knew Monserrate was a good player. We were shooting to hold her under 20.''
Said Davis: "That was real big. We wanted to keep the ball out of her hands. Jessica did a great job guarding her."