Lindsey Devine knew where the pass was going. And her timing was impeccable.
The Hauppauge forward stepped in front of a pass intended for leading scorer Sam Schultz, who had set up for a three-point attempt. Devine timed the theft perfectly with 3.9 seconds left Thursday night to seal the Eagles’ 53-49 win over host Kings Park in a Suffolk League V girls basketball game.
“I just read her eyes all the way,” Devine said. “And I jumped in front of Schultz and stole the pass.”
Devine’s free throw had given Hauppauge a 52-49 lead with 21 seconds remaining in a riveting half in which there were 11 lead changes. On its final possession, Kings Park brought the ball downcourt and worked it around the perimeter, trying to free up Schultz for a potential tying three-pointer.
“She’s a great player and everyone knew they wanted her to get the last shot,” Devine said. Schultz scored 21 points.
Kings Park fouled Devine (nine points) immediately after the steal and she converted one of two free throws for the final margin.
The win moved Hauppauge to 3-1 in league play and evened Kings Park’s record at 2-2.
Down the stretch, 6-4 Hauppauge junior Lauren Romito scored two key baskets, but her defensive play was the key to the win. She finished with nine blocked shots, including three in the final two minutes, and altered a few others that were missed.
“She played a great game,” Hauppauge coach Jamie Edson said. “She erases our mistakes underneath the basket.
“This has turned into a great rivalry. Last year we beat them by one point in overtime twice and we went on to win the county championship. This year we’re super- young and learning. This is a wonderful confidence-builder.”
Early on, both teams tested the other’s mettle with big runs. Hauppauge used a 10-0 spurt midway through the first quarter to open a 12-3 lead, but Julia Pellettieri came off the bench to hit a three-pointer and end the scoring drought for the Kingsmen, who closed the quarter trailing 16-8.
Hauppauge sophomore point guard Kayla Bullard hit a three-pointer and a driving layup to open the second quarter as the Eagles extended the lead to 21-8.
“We were playing tough defense and challenging shots,” said Hauppauge’s Christina John (eight rebounds, four steals). “They weren’t getting any easy baskets.”
Kings Park coach Tom Edmundson changed things up on defense and the call was brilliant. The Kingsmen went into a half-court trap and forced six second-quarter turnovers, spurring an 11-0 run to draw within 21-19 with 42 seconds left in the half.
“Good teams are going to grab momentum and go on a big run,” Edson said. “You need someone to make a big steal or tip a shot or hit a tough shot to stop the momentum. I thought we used our timeouts well to calm things down.”