Jackie DelliSanti does so many different things well for her team that her coach joked it has to stop somewhere. “I can’t ask her to drive the bus,” Denis Conroy said with a laugh.
DelliSanti is clearly the engine of the Commack girls basketball team, which captured a second straight county title by defeating No. 8 Sachem East, 63-39, Wednesday night in the Suffolk Class AA championship game at Suffolk County CC-Brentwood. But Commack’s success also is driven by the players around her who, when need be, are capable of taking the keys, jumping behind the wheel, and taking the Cougars where they need to go.
“I’m so proud of my team for everything we’ve accomplished,” said DelliSanti, who had 15 points and helped create for her teammates. “Every game I can always count on them, and today they stepped up big time.”
That included Casey Hearns, who scored 10 of her season-high 15 points in the span of about 60 seconds early in the second quarter. After hitting a three, Hearns stripped the ball and pushed it upcourt for the layup plus the foul. She missed the free throw, but grabbed the rebound and converted the putback for a 21-8 advantage. On the ensuing possession, she drained a three from the right wing to increase the lead to 16 with 6:44 left in the half.
“I was just rolling with it,” Hearns said. “Honestly, we are one of the most committed teams on Long Island. We really, really wanted this.”
Leanne Corso and Jillian Spagnuola helped contain Sachem East’s main offensive threats despite surrendering significant height advantages. The 5-10 Corso helped limit 6-2 center Danielle Cosgrove in the second half by fronting her or deflecting entry passes. Corso added 14 points, including a three that increased the lead to 38-24 with 6:15 left in the third.
“Once we get going, we are really dangerous,” Corso said. “We play hard. We play together. We make sure everyone gets touches.”
With no seniors on Sachem East, all players are expected to return next season for the Flaming Arrows (13-9), who upset top-seeded Ward Melville during its Cinderella run to the county final. Cosgrove had 15 points and Alyssa Signor added 14, including four three-pointers.
Signor’s corner three off an inbounds play pulled Sachem within 43-31 with 3:05 left in the third. But Sam Miller responded with a layup and DelliSanti followed with a three to open a 48-31 lead that grew to 20 by the end of the third.
Commack (20-2) plays Islip in the Suffolk overall championship Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Stony Brook University. The Cougars advance to the Class AA Long Island championship against the Baldwin-Massapequa winner on March 5 at 2:30 p.m. at St. Joseph’s College.
DelliSanti even joked that if the team needs her to drive the bus to the game, she’ll do it.
“Of course I will,” she said. “I got my license.”