Ugly is beautiful for the Floral Park girls basketball team.
Floral Park prides itself on playing tough, pressure defense that gives opposing teams multiple looks to prepare for and adjust to in the middle of a game. It can lead to frustrating moments for opponents, turnovers and opportunities for fast-break points. Exactly what the Knights hope for.
"Defense wins us everything," senior guard Emma Harkins said. "We have the bigs contributing, guards contributing and defense wins games. That’s our biggest thing."
The team defense shined again as Floral Park defeated host Lynbrook, 45-31, in Nassau Conference A-IV girls basketball on Wednesday.
"That’s my reputation to play four, five, six different defenses," coach Mike Spina said. "It makes it hard on an offense to know what we are doing."
Floral Park, which improves to 10-1 overall and 3-1 in the conference, utilized a 21-5 second quarter to propel itself to the victory.
"It was a huge quarter," said Emma Kline, who led Floral Park with 13 points and had five in the run. "We have a history of letting teams get back in the second half, so we wanted to keep a big lead in the first half then play tough defense and not let them back in it."
Harkins added 11 points, Keri Birmingham scored eight points and Emma Cheslock had six points in the win.
Kaelynn O’Brien had 10 points and Cate Jennings added eight points for Lynbrook (3-3).
Floral Park was coming off its lone loss of the season, which occurred when Elizabeth Kenney sank a three-pointer with three seconds remaining in the fourth quarter in a 58-55 final with Mineola on Friday. That loss lingered in the players’ minds and served as a reminder of how challenging Conference A-IV is this season.
But with goals of being a factor in the Nassau Class A postseason, Floral Park hopes these matchups strengthen the team.
"We know more what to expect," Kline said. "All these teams are good, so we just have to work our butts off and be ready."
Floral Park held a 31-13 lead at halftime. Lynbrook never brought the score to within single digits in the second half. But any time the Owls tightened the score, Spina knew he could count on Harkins, a five-year varsity player, to command the offense and defense.
"She gets us under control," Spina said. "She just plays lights out. She’s always on the ground, she’s the hardest-working player I’ve ever coached."