The Eastport-South Manor girls basketball team earned its 14th win in Suffolk League IV on Friday night with only half that number in uniform.
The Sharks, with eight players on the roster but only seven available, had just eight points at halftime but leaned on their persistent defense and the contributions of sophomore Katie McCormick, who scored all 10 of her points in the final nine minutes.
The second of McCormick’s two free throws with 3.6 seconds left in the third quarter gave the Sharks a one-point lead from which they wouldn’t look back, as ESM defeated host Kings Park, 36-27. Casey Travers had 19 points and 10 rebounds.
“It was huge,” Travers said of McCormick’s impact off the bench. “Being a sophomore, her first year on varsity, having the confidence to hit those shots was huge.”
McCormick’s three-pointer from the right wing put ESM (14-1) ahead 25-21, then Megan Henderson assisted Travers inside on the next possession.
Sam Hogan (nine points) made one of two free throws for Kings Park (4-10), cutting its deficit to 27-22, but ESM scored the next nine points to take control. McCormick’s three-pointer from the right corner with 2:14 left iced the game at 36-22.
As a first-year varsity player, McCormick has far exceeded expectations.
“I thought I’d help people work hard in practice and stuff, but it’s fun,” she said. “It’s good to be up here.”
Kings Park led 12-8 at halftime after a defensive clinic by both teams. The Kingsmen’s largest lead was 18-13 on Meghan Bossert’s short jumper midway through the third quarter, but then ESM’s offense came alive.
All seven Sharks saw significant time, and five of them scored.
“The odds are stacked against them,” ESM coach Steve Giacolone said. “When you’re playing with seven players, and we’re going against teams that have 15 on the roster, people are laughing at you. But they play big.”
Travers said the team’s success comes from its defense and conditioning. She said that “endurance is key,” and even though intrasquad scrimmages sometimes come against the junior varsity team, the Sharks make it work.
“They just all work hard together,” Giacolone said. “They know their limitations. We play great defense, which keeps us in games. We’re in great shape. We don’t seem to get tired out there.”
What the Sharks lack in numbers, they make up for in wins. Not a bad trade-off.