Anyone familiar with Sachem East is well aware Kristen Doherty will take a lot of shots and is the focal point of the offense. What often gets overlooked is the 5-11 guard's defense.
Doherty's wingspan causes problems for the opposition and she plays a key role in the Flaming Arrows' pressure defense. Once again Doherty led the way offensively with 29 points, but the story was her eight steals and the team's suffocating defense in a 63-37 win over host Ward Melville Thursday night in a Suffolk League I girls basketball game.
"We're just coming together," Doherty said. "We're getting our rotations down and the defense is playing well. That leads to a lot of our offense."
Sachem East (6-3, 5-0) allowed 11 first-quarter points to Ward Melville (8-2, 3-1) and didn't allow a double-digit quarter the rest of the way. Sachem East allowed 35 points to Commack on Tuesday.
"Kids are starting to communicate better on defense," Sachem East coach Matt Brisson said. "We've gone from it being a morgue inside the gym with no one talking on defense to everyone communicating more."
Ward Melville kept it tight for the first quarter as Kaitlyn Carballeira (16 points) scored six points and WM trailed 12-11. Doherty shot 2-for-8 from the field in the first, but she found her touch in the second quarter, connecting on 6 of 9 shots for a total of 13 points.
The Sachem East defense really caused havoc as the Patriots had a tough time breaking the trap and were limited to just eight points in the second quarter.
Doherty opened the second quarter with a drive to the basket and a steal and layup. Kelsey Ferguson hit two free throws and Stephanie Burrow scored off an assist from Doherty to cap an 8-0 run and give the Flaming Arrows a 20-11 lead.
Sachem East closed the quarter on a 10-2 run culminating on a three-pointer by Doherty to give the Flaming Arrows a 34-19 halftime lead. They opened the fourth quarter on a 12-0 run to take a 55-28 lead. "Our endurance is getting better," Ferguson said. "We had a tough non-league schedule and it has prepared us for the league."
Meagan Doherty (seven points) played in her second straight game after missing nearly a month with a partially torn left MCL, but she had a brace on the knee and played limited minutes.
Ward Melville came into the game with seven consecutive wins, including victories over Whitman, Northport and Kings Park. But Sachem East showed there's still a considerable gap between itself and the rest of the league.
"They're a good team," Ward Melville coach Lawrence Combs said. "Our biggest problem was offense. We didn't look to attack. This is a good wake-up call for us."