Carle Place junior forward Erin Leary discussed the top-seeded Frogs’ 57-32 victory over No. 4 Malverne in the Nassau B semifinals at Farmingdale State on Monday, February 17, 2020. Credit: Newsday / Laura Amato

There was no leaping over the Carle Place girls basketball team on Monday night.

The top-seeded Frogs cruised to a 57-32 victory over No. 4 Malverne in a Nassau Class B semifinal at Farmingdale State, holding the Mules to three points in the final 11 minutes.

After Malverne made it an eight-point game with just over three minutes left in the third quarter, Carle Place responded with a 20-3 run to secure the victory and book a ticket to Friday’s county final.

Forward Erin Leary had 25 points for Carle Place, which will play No. 3 Friends Academy at 5 p.m. at Farmingdale State.

“We knew we couldn’t give up,” said point guard Amanda Leary, who scored 15 points. “It all came down to defense and how aggressive we played.”

Tyela Davidson capped the Mules’ nine-point run midway through the third quarter with a foul shot that pulled Malverne within 37-29, but Carle Place (17-3) ended the quarter with six straight points.

“I think that’s been the way we are all year,” Carle Place coach Conor Reardon said. “We’ve been in tough games, especially in the non-league [games], and that put us in a position to really respond. We were prepared for it.”

Reardon said Carle Place was “settling for jump shots” early, but the Frogs adjusted in the second half by driving the lane and finding holes in the zone of Malverne (7-13).

“We knew we had to get inside,” Erin Leary said. “I just have my eye on the basket and I go for it. I know if I don’t get a basket, at least maybe I’ll get a foul.”

While the offense was driving and thriving, the Carle Place defense locked in late, settling into a zone after opening the game in man-to-man.

“We kept getting screened and we couldn’t get around it,” Amanda Leary said. “So when we switched to that matchup zone, it helped us out with the shooters and closing them down on the outside.”

Reardon applauded his team for its inspired fourth-quarter play. “It was the first time in a while we faced some adversity,” he said.

The Frogs hope to build on that, setting their sights on a sixth straight county championship.

“Our team this year is so much different than it was last year,” Erin Leary said. “We’re younger [now], but we’re still capable of the same things. We have to stay together, keep our heads up and never stop working.”


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