There is one rule when the MacArthur girls basketball team plays its annual game at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum during the holiday break: everyone plays.
Using three sets of five-player rotations, MacArthur edged Cold Spring Harbor, 43-39, in a non-league game at the Coliseum on Friday. MacArthur’s opponents know when they schedule this game to be prepared for a battle of the benches.
“It’s not cheap to play here…So the other coaches and I agree each year that everyone is playing the same amount,” MacArthur coach Dave Radtke said. “If the kids fund-raise and the parents are going to buy tickets, I want the parents to see the kids play…We don’t care about the score.”
But by the fourth quarter, both sides showed they cared at least a little bit.
Shannon Kilian hit a three-pointer from the top of the key to give MacArthur (4-2) a 34-33 lead near the midway point. After Cold Spring Harbor’s Ava Tighe scored on a putback on the next possession, Kilian nailed another three, this time from the right wing, to make it 37-35. Teammates Rebecca Inglese (a running lefty hook) and Marissa Cardon scored and Kilian iced it with two free throws in the final minute to provide the final margin. Kilian scored eight of her 10 points in the fourth quarter.
“There were a lot of substitutions, so it took us a bit to get used to the chemistry,” Kilian said. “But we knew we had to start turning it up at some point … Coach kept saying ‘if you’re open, shoot, if you’re open, shoot’ and we just started to hit shots.”
Both teams struggled to adjust to the larger arena and the different substitution methods in the first quarter. Cold Spring Harbor (2-4) led 6-2 after the first and took a 20-15 lead into the half after Jillian Goldman made a short corner jumper with five seconds left.
But MacArthur’s 15-player rotation eventual wore down Cold Spring Harbor, whose roster consists of only nine players. Even if they’ve only practiced twice since school broke for the holidays, the Generals are built for a battle of attrition.
“We can play with anyone athletically but sometimes we can’t put the ball in the basket,” said Radtke. “But if we make a mistake, we flush it and don’t get fazed by it … They might get nervous in soccer or volleyball because that’s their main sport, but not in basketball. All of the girls just love to compete.”