The offensive development of Stephanie Leon has come slowly. The 6-3 Northport junior center has shown flashes but hasn't been consistent.
Entering last night's game, she was coming off two consecutive games with only two points. With first place in Suffolk League II on the line, Leon had her best offensive performance of the season.
Leon had 14 points, 11 rebounds, seven blocked shots and four assists for Northport in a 54-42 win over host Whitman in a Coaches vs. Cancer game.
"I really concentrated on getting open down low and making my shots," Leon said. "My teammates did a good job of getting the ball to me."
Northport coach Rich Castellano said assistant coach Ken Schultz has been working with Leon daily in practice.
"She's coming on big time," Castellano said. "She's getting better with her inside moves. She's beginning to do more things well."
Northport (8-1, 5-0) led 35-30 midway through the third quarter before Meghan Foehl capped the third quarter with a runner at the buzzer to pull Whitman within 37-36.
Whitman (8-2, 4-1) took a 38-37 lead when Foehl fed Nicki Giordano for a jumper. It was all Northport after that.
Northport point guard Grace Schilling scored six of her 10 points in the fourth quarter and Allie Clarke scored five of her eight points in a 17-6 quarter for Northport.
Schilling forced a steal and took it coast-to-coast for a layup to put Northport ahead for good at 39-38. Schilling then scored on a runner in the lane and a block by Leon led to a basket for her at the other end and a 43-38 lead with 4:54 left.
"Her size disrupted us down low," Whitman coach Dan Trebour said. "It's hard to double her because they have good shooters."
Whitman cut it to 45-40, but Clarke scored five consecutive points to push the Tigers' lead to 50-40 with 1:12 left.
"We played really good defense in the fourth quarter," Schilling said. "We started looking for each other on offense."
Whitman didn't get double-digit scoring from anyone and was hurt by foul trouble. Kelly Bilodeau and Ally Leftridge each picked up their third fouls in the second quarter and had to sit, but even without them, Whitman managed to play well. "We didn't get scoring from where we usually get it from," Trebour said. "You're not going to beat Northport scoring 42 points."
Northport lost four starters from last season and Leon thinks many people believe the Tigers aren't as good.
"We're coming along," Leon said. "We have new players in new spots, but we're getting better."