Center Moriches and Wyandanch showed during the season that the teams are pretty even. Center Moriches won the first matchup at home in overtime, 63-55, and Wyandanch won on its homecourt last week, 62-55.
The teams met this afternoon in a Suffolk Class B semifinal and there was no doubt who the better team was. Center Moriches was in control throughout in a 66-47 win. The Red Devils will play No. 1 Mattituck at 4 p.m. Tuesday at St. Joseph's for the county championship.
"It’s a miracle," Center Moriches guard Jessica Bandowski said. "I’m very excited."
Bandrowski, on varsity since eighth grade and now a senior, has endured a lot of losing to the Warriors. Wyandanch had beat Center Moriches nine consecutive times, including last season's county championship entering this season.
Bandrowski was huge with 14 of her 20 points in the second half.
"Usually, I am the one more talking," junior Amber Davis said. "She really stepped it up and was vocal."
Davis scored 26 points, including the 1,000th of her career on her final basket of the game in the last minute. Davis was a thorn in the side of Wyandanch all season. She averaged 28.3 points in three games against the Warriors. She scored 10 points in a 16-11 first quarter and 17 in a 36-26 first half.
"Amber has been for the last month our go-to person," CM coach Rich Alifano said. "When her and Bandrowski are going, it’s a tough matchup."
And with Kelsey Glanzman also having a good game with 13 points, it was that much more of an arduous task for the Warriors. Center Moriches had a tough time handling the pressure from the Warriors last week in a 62-55 loss, but made the adjustment today.
"We switched up the way we handled their pressure," CM coach Rich Alifano said. "It took us a little while to execute it, but I think we did a really good job in the second half."
Said Davis: "Last time we threw the ball away a lot. We worked on the 1-2-2 press, which gave us trouble last week. We played at our pace."
Center Moriches had a 14-point lead in the second quarter before Wyandanch cut it to 28-24. Center Moriches closed the half with a 10-2 run as Glanzman found Davis off the inbounds pass in the final seconds to close the half and push the lead to 36-26.
The lead grew to 50-31 late in the third quarter before the Warriors went on a 13-1 run. Bandrowski answered with a three-pointer with 5:03 left.
"We responded to their runs," Wyandanch coach Warren Fuller said, "but not with enough points. When she made it 10 again, we’re back in the hole again. That was it."
Glanzman followed with a layup, Emma Whittle hit a three-pointer and Bandrowski capped a 10-0 run with 1:34 left for a 61-44 lead.
"This is big for us," Bandrowski said. "We knew we could do it."
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