In a matchup featuring two undefeated teams, Jaeda Delsoin said Floral Park entered Wednesday night’s showdown with Wantagh, last season’s Nassau Class A runner-up, with a great deal of anticipation.
Amidst the hype, she delivered.
“We talked about it a lot,” said Delsoin, who recorded 20 points and five assists in Floral Park’s 57-49 road victory over Wantagh in a Nassau A-IV girls basketball game. “We prepared knowing they’re a gritty team. We just had to figure out how to keep the level of pressure up.”
A deep three-pointer from Wantagh’s Julia Wilkinson with 21 seconds remaining cut the Floral Park lead to 51-47. The Warriors fouled from that point, but Floral Park (6-0) drained all six of its free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
“This is a very exhilarating win,” Delsoin said. “They’re our rival and when they come to our house it’s going to be great.”
Floral Park coach Mike Spina was impressed with his team’s discipline and poise in the big moments.
“I loved the way my girls keep battling,” Spina said. “At one point we were down eight and we came back . . . They followed the game plan to perfection. They’re young, energetic, a little wacky. I love their wackiness. They don’t get nervous and they go out there and have fun.”
A pair of free throws from Delsoin with 2:50 left in the third gave Floral Park its first lead since the opening minutes of the first quarter at 34-33 before the Knights ended the period ahead 39-35.
“We really came together in the second half and handled the adversity well,” said Floral Park guard Erin Harkins, who added 15 points and five rebounds.
Wantagh (5-1) opened the second quarter on a 9-4 run, and Morgan Flaherty’s layup with 45 seconds to go gave the Warriors a 27-20 advantage.
Floral Park ended the half with five unanswered points, as Harkins banked in a transition three-pointer and forward Maya Bateau converted a layup in the final minute, cutting Wantagh’s halftime lead to 30-27. Bateau finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.
The Knights applied a full-court press throughout the second half, stifling Wantagh and creating a number of turnovers that led to timely opportunities in transition. Delsoin said the defensive adjustments were ultimately the key for Floral Park.
“We had to improve our defense,” Delsoin said. “And we weren’t rebounding well so we had to adjust to that and how they were attacking the basket.”