Southampton forward Kesi Goree is seen after her team's loss...

Southampton forward Kesi Goree is seen after her team's loss to Irvington in the New York State Southeast Regional girls basketball Class B small school finals at Farmingdale State College. (March 10, 2012) Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

If there was any question as to why Irvington is the two-time defending state Class B girls basketball champion in public schools, the Bulldogs left little to the imagination Saturday.

Irvington took a nine-point lead less than two minutes into the Southeast Regional final with Southampton and the avalanche was only getting started.

Noel Hodges scored 13 points and Paris Hodges 12 as Southampton was defeated, 74-41, by Irvington at Farmingdale State. Irvington (23-1) advances to the state semifinals to face Saranac Central.

"They ran a clinic out there," Southampton coach Rich Wingfield said. "It was all the things that we talked out: the quick transition. I heard coach [Gina] Maher say 'the team had become like a fist because it was five fingers now.' That fist just boiled up and they punch you in the nose with it.

"They're so good and they're so athletic, so smart, everything and more. Not for the lack of trying, they were just certainly the better team."

Marley Giddins (23 points) went on a 12-2 run by herself in the first quarter as Irvington exploded for a 28-9 lead.

The onslaught continued in the second quarter as the Bulldogs ran up and down the court with dizzying speed and efficiency. Brittni Lai (18 points) drove and made an awe-inspiring no-look pass to Giddins for a layup to make the score 34-11.

"They were at another level," Wingfield said. "Their sense of execution, their level of proficiency is just something to be admired."

Paris and Noel Hodges each had six points in the first half for Southampton, which went on a 6-0 run to close the second quarter but Irvington took a 45-18 lead into the break.

Southampton (20-5) played a slower, more possession-oriented offense than usual.

"We had to. At the end of the day when you can see that in certain ways, we couldn't match their athleticism across the board," said Wingfield, who called Irvington the best team he's ever faced. "We couldn't match that whole level of proficiency that they have, the experience level that they have."

It was a disappointing way to end a historic season for Southampton. After three failed attempts, the Mariners won their first Long Island championship this year.

"It's disappointing but at the same time, this is our first time ever getting this far and I'm just happy to be here," Paris Hodges said. "I just hoped that we'd try our hardest and we did. We left it on the court; we could only do our best."

With just one player graduating and eight juniors returning, the Mariners are a strong contender for another LIC next season.

"We're going to take the positive route so next year we get even further and hopefully, we see them and we'll get through it next time," Hodges said. "Hopefully, next year, we end up actually getting to states."


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