Olivia Vergano had a hunch prior to the start of Saturday’s Suffolk Conference II girls basketball semifinal.
"I told myself that this isn’t it, ‘I’m not done yet’," said Vergano, a four-year varsity player. "I knew this wasn’t going to be my last game. I just felt it."
Her intuition was right.
West Babylon used a 15-1 run that began late in the third quarter and lasted until the three-minute mark in the fourth, to pull away from visiting Huntington in its 48-32 win.
Vergano led all scorers with 15 points. Brianna Winkler added 10 and Lacey Downey had nine.
The Eagles will visit Half Hollow Hills East Sunday at 2:30 p.m. in the Conference II final. Hills East defeated Eastport-South Manor, 52-38, in its semifinal matchup.
"It’s been a crazy, crazy year," Vergano said. "I didn’t think I was going to get a season, but to have this opportunity at redemption from last year is really amazing."
West Babylon (8-0) lost by two to Westhampton in the county final last February.
"We had five returning starters. The thought of those kids not having a chance to redeem themselves this year was tough," coach Ron Langella said. "It’s very rewarding to give these kids the opportunity to get out and play."
A back-and-forth first quarter ended with a Junie Nosile layup at the buzzer for Huntington to tie the score at 10. Nosile, a 6-4 center, proceeded to score the next six Huntington points for a 16-14 lead.
With time winding down in the second quarter, Vergano nailed a bank shot three-pointer from the left wing to give the Eagles a 24-20 halftime advantage. Nosile totaled eight points and was scoreless in the second half.
"We had to get a body on her and do our best to keep the ball out of her hands," Downey said. "We did a good job of boxing her out as the game went on."
West Babylon began the third quarter on a 6-1 run, but Huntington’s Emily Plachta (13 points) responded with six unanswered points to cut the West Babylon lead to 30-27.
Winkler halted the Plachta burst with a basket, and Downey followed with a running layup in the lane to beat the third quarter buzzer and put the Eagles ahead by 7. West Babylon held Huntington (5-2) to 12 points in the second half.
"We like to play fast and wear people down," Langella said. "If you look at our box scores throughout the year, teams score fewer points in the third and even less in the fourth. Today was typical West Babylon basketball."