It didn't take long to figure out what Garden City has been missing since the first game of the season. Christina Mangels has been out since Nov. 30 with a bone bruise and turf toe on her left foot.
She didn't have one practice before Tuesday night's home game against Division, but it didn't show. The 5-11 junior forward blocked a shot two minutes into the game. About 30 seconds later she batted a pass out of bounds. She later had a steal and an offensive rebound that led to a three-pointer by Jess Stein.
That was all in the first 3:21 of the game and it was a consistent theme throughout the rest of the game. Mangels scored just six points, but it was 18 rebounds, seven steals, and the hustle plays that showed her impact as Garden City handed Division its first loss of the season, 48-26, in Nassau Conference A-I girls basketball.
Garden City (6-2, 2-1) has a one-point loss and a three-point loss in double overtime and Barbara Sullivan believes the Trojans would be undefeated if Mangels wasn't absent.
"Everything she does is the reason we win," said Sullivan, who was honored before the game after becoming the fifth player in Garden City history to score 1,000 points last week. "We lost two close games without her. She grabs every rebound. Every time the ball is on the ground, she is there."
Mangels had 10 points and 24 rebounds to begin the season.
"It's good to be back," Mangels said while an ice bag was on her toe. "I was a little hesitant. My foot still hurts me, but it wasn't too much pain."
Garden City coach Anthony Sparacia said Mangels makes a big difference.
"The energy she brings overall and defensively makes us so much better," he said. "She turns us from a pretty good team to a very good team. She's athletic and brings us second and third opportunities. She doesn't care about points. She's very happy to do the dirty work."
It was also the first time the Trojans had all five starters together this season. Katie Trimmer returned last week after missing the start of the season because of a severe ankle sprain she suffered playing field hockey.
Sullivan scored 15 points, Kim Ryan added 13, including three three-pointers, but it was the Trojans' defense that shined. They limited Division (6-1, 1-1) to four points in the first quarter and didn't allow a field goal until one second was left in the opening quarter. They held Division scoreless in the second quarter and led 16-4 at the half.
The drought continued until 3:01 remained in the third quarter when Division hit a free throw to pull within 28-5. Division didn't score for 12:59 and went 13:12 without a field goal.
Division, the defending Long Island Class A champion, hadn't played since Dec. 17.
"It was a little bit of a factor," Division coach Steve Kissane said, "but they're good. It was tough for us to score. The defense was good and we looked sluggish. They put pressure on the ball and we turned it over a lot. This isn't the team we had last year, but it's a good team. We had an embarrassing loss last year and it helped. I hope this helps."
Sullivan pointed to this game as a gauge for where the Trojans stack up.
"If we can beat them, we know we're good," she said. "They're our measuring stick. They're the best team and to dominate them is insane. Our defense was awesome and we passed the ball well and played like a team."