The Harborfields girls basketball team is a drastically different group when point guard Christiana de Borja isn’t on the court.
But the Tornadoes were able to outlast Sewanhaka even when de Borja battled foul trouble in Tuesday’s Suffolk Shootout, winning 58-40.
“Without Christiana in, we lose a leader out there,” said Kate Tardo, who scored a team-high 16 points in de Borja’s absence. “It’s tough to get everybody on the same page without her.”
That was evident at several points throughout the contest. De Borja picked up three personal fouls by the early stages of the second quarter, so coach Glenn Lavey brought her to the bench.
But when Sewanhaka closed what was once a 12-point deficit to 20-18, Lavey had no choice but to put her back in with two minutes left in the quarter. The Tornadoes built a 24-18 lead with her on the court and took it into the half.
After picking up a fourth foul in the third quarter, Lavey decided to be bold and have her start the fourth. With her on the floor, Harborfields outscored Sewanhaka 20-9 in the final quarter.
“She affects the game without having to score,” Lavey said. “That’s how you know you’re a good player.”
De Borja finished with eight points, while it was Tardo who picked up the slack.
“Filling her shoes is tough, but someone had to do it,” Tardo said.
The junior scored most of her points in transition, as the up-tempo Tornadoes continually pressured the Indians and forced turnovers. She also credited teammates Falyn Dwyer (three points), Erin Tucker (12) and Grace Zagaja (nine) for making important contributions.
Zagaja was crucial to the game’s outcome, as she hauled in 12 rebounds for a Harborfields team that is mostly guard-oriented. The Tornadoes (7-2) can struggle on the glass at times, and with Destiny Hurt scoring a game-high 19 points for Sewanhaka (5-2), limiting her second-chance opportunities was important to the final.
“This win gives us a lot of confidence because we know we don’t have to depend on [de Borja] all the time,” Tardo said. “Now we know we can do it without her too.”