Taylor Byrne was going to be in the starting lineup for Massapequa but arrived to the team bus a little late. Once the freshman got on the court, she gave the Chiefs a much-needed inside presence.
"I'm used to coming off the bench being part of the young [players] of the team," Byrne said. "Coming off the bench, I knew what I had to bring to the floor. I knew I had to get the big rebounds."
Byrne scored a career-high 10 points, shooting 3-for-4 from the field with four free throws, and Morgan Roessler and Danielle Doherty each had 12 points for Massapequa in a 53-39 girls basketball win over host Uniondale in a Nassau Conference AA-I game Friday afternoon. The Chiefs (12-1, 8-0) have a stranglehold on first place in the conference with a two-game lead in the standings and four games to play.
"We really needed this," Roessler said. "We've been practicing all week for it. We knew that if we came out and beat them, that we could get the [No. 1] seed over Baldwin."
Doherty and Roessler each had just two points in the first half, with Roessler in early foul trouble. The duo turned it around after halftime, each scoring 10 points in the second half.
Doherty held Uniondale's Aliyah McDonald (11 points) to one basket in the third quarter after limiting Sakara Hester-Torres (10 points) to only two points in the first half.
"They're both great players, so you have to focus on them, don't focus on anyone else, don't help," Doherty said.
Jayda Hyatt (nine points) hit a basket midway through the third quarter to cut the deficit to 31-25 but that was as close as Uniondale (7-5, 6-2) would come.
Massapequa led 24-15 at halftime after taking command during a 16-4 second quarter with Byrne, Sabrina Fregosi and Melissa Maini combining for 13 points off the bench.
"I think that is the complete difference, is that we can sub, keep fresh, no drop-off," Massapequa coach Shari Roessler said. "We have a little bit of everything and a lot of chemistry."