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Keyanah Jackson, defensive shift give Copiague victory

Copiague's Keyanah Jackson (11) looks to get around

Copiague's Keyanah Jackson (11) looks to get around Huntington's Katie Seccafico (10) in the fourth quarter during the Suffolk High School girls basketball game between Copiague and Huntington on Tuesday, Jan 21, 2017 at Copiague High School. Credit: Bob Sorensen

Defensive monotony suddenly overwhelmed the Copiague girls basketball team on Tuesday night.

That’s when coach Carole Olsen decided to roll the dice.

Copiague abandoned its traditional 1-3-1 zone in favor of a 1-2-2 philosophy in the second half of its Suffolk III showdown with Huntington, which helped ignite the Eagles en route to a 49-39 home victory.

“Coming into tonight, we had only practiced it twice,” Olsen said. “But when I put my players in a position where they can be aggressive, they flourish.”

Huntington outscored Copiague 12-4 in the second quarter and entered the half leading 21-16.

Foul trouble plagued Copiague (12-4, 10-1) in the second quarter and relegated three starters to the bench.

Olsen’s employment of the 1-2-2 scheme predominantly restricted Huntington (12-4, 6-3) to the perimeter in the second half. The Blue Devils converted just three three-point attempts.

Keyanah Jackson, who pushed the pace consistently and had 14 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and two blocks for Copiague, didn’t express any doubt in Olsen’s tweak.

“We weren’t really nervous,” Jackson said. “We were confident.”

The results were visible, as Copiague led 28-27 after the third quarter.

Alex Heuwetter scored 14 points for Huntington and knocked down a three with just under five minutes remaining to cut the deficit to five. Jackson responded with six consecutive points to give Copiague a 45-34 advantage with 2:50 to go, essentially sealing the win.

Melinda Harris tacked on 11 points for the Eagles. Faith McCombs scored eight points with 10 rebounds, but became a real game-changer in the second half as she picked up four of her six blocks.

“My blocks come from the encouragement of my team,” McCombs said. “Without that, I don’t go for them.”

As Copiague prepares for a postseason run, Jackson understood the magnitude of this matchup.

“This was definitely a test for us.”

McCombs also noted the significance of swift in-game adjustments such as Tuesday night’s.

“It’s very important to be able to adapt. It can really help us in the playoffs.”

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