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Christiana de Borja, Grace Zagaja spark Harborfields

Christiana de Borja #21 of Harborfields dribbles downcourt

Christiana de Borja #21 of Harborfields dribbles downcourt during a Suffolk County varsity girls basketball game against Westhampton at Harborfields High School on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017. Harborfields won by a score of 53-25. Credit: James Escher

Whether it came on an intercepted pass at midcourt by Christiana de Borja or a strong rebound from Grace Zagaja, the makings of a successful possession for Harborfields came long before the ball went through the hoop.

The Tornadoes returned to their optimal style, relying on quickness to turn stops into transition points in a 53-25 win over Westhampton in Suffolk V on Tuesday.

“We never really get our offense started until defense starts,” Kate Tardo said. “That’s where all our energy comes from, that’s where we get transition points and everything. It all comes down to defense.”

Harborfields’ hallmark was missing last week in the team’s first loss of the season, to Comsewogue. The players responded by focusing on the energy that makes the team tick.

“Our style is really based upon coming out hard, right in your face, full-court pressing,” Falyn Dwyer said. “So we wanted to get back to that and play like the team we know we are.”

Dwyer scored a team-high 11 points, including four at the end of a 22-4 run spanning the first and second quarters. The Tornadoes (8-1) scored 14 unanswered points over six minutes at the start of that run.

Dwyer emerged late after getting a couple of early fouls. After getting going in the second quarter, she put in a quick five points early in the third to help put the game away.

“When I came back in, I was super determined to go hard and make the most of the minutes left in the game and just play smart defense,” Dwyer said.

In her absence, de Borja wreaked havoc with defensive pressure, coming up with clean steals that she turned into quick points. She scored eight.

“(Last week) was a good wake-up call for us and we were very determined after our loss to come back and get a win,” de Borja said.

Isabelle Smith had 10 points for Westhampton (4-5), but she was guarded closely by Tardo, who had eight points. That defense, combined with Zagaja’s six free throws, helped take pressure off the offense when the pace slowed.

With a matchup looming against fellow first-place team Sayville, Harborfields has renewed confidence.

“We know we have to keep working hard to get to where we want,” Zagaja said.


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