Grace Trotta #44 of Massapequa lines up a shot during...

Grace Trotta #44 of Massapequa lines up a shot during the Chanee Brown Memorial Classic against Whitman at Baldwin High School on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022. She scored 20 points to lead Massapequa to a 59-44 win. Credit: James Escher

Grace Trotta knew she was capable of much more than what she showed on the court in the first half. 

The Massapequa junior guard/forward combo wasn’t content with five points and a tied score entering halftime. And she proved that over the final 16 minutes as she scored 15 of her 20 points in the second half as Massapequa defeated Whitman, 59-44, in a non-league girls basketball game at the Chaneé Brown Classic at Baldwin High School on Wednesday.

“I thought I did bad in the first half and I wanted to pick it up in the second, so I feel good about it overall,” Trotta said. “The coaches talked to us during halftime and I just felt like we needed to pick it up. So I picked it up, individually.”

Trotta had eight points in the fourth quarter, including a three-pointer from the corner to give Massapequa a 52-44 lead with 3:10 left. She recorded a steal on the ensuing possession, which Nikki DiOrio capped off with a three-pointer to extend the lead to 55-44 with 2:45 left.

“Grace is a very confident player and as the game flows, she takes advantage of opportunities that come her way and she doesn’t flinch,” coach Billy Herr said. “She got hot and kept shooting. Good shooters keep shooting and Grace never wavers.”

Whitman (6-2) scored nine of the game’s first 11 points and opened a 12-4 lead over the first four minutes. Massapequa (7-2) tied the score at 26 entering halftime, in large part due to Alexa Cirabisi scoring eight of her 14 points in the second quarter.

“I know my capabilities, I know my team’s capabilities and I knew we weren’t reaching it in the first quarter and first half,” Cirabisi said. “I wanted to pick it up for myself and my teammates as well.”

Briana Neary scored five of her 15 points in the first two minutes of the third quarter, as Massapequa scored the first seven points of the period and never trailed in the second half. Kathleen O’Mara led Whitman with 17 points.

“I was very proud of how they didn’t flinch with Whitman coming out fast and strong and they kept playing their game,” Herr said. “We didn’t change anything, we didn’t make adjustments, we knew if we played our game, we’d be in good shape.”

Herr was pleased to see Trotta take the pivotal three-pointer late in the contest after Whitman’s Iris Hoffman hit a three-pointer to cut the score to 49-44.

“It was huge because you have kids that will freeze in that moment and we have Grace and Alexa and Briana and they don’t,” “We have three top players and Grace took that shot and I believe any of them would have taken that shot. But Grace stepped up for us today in the fourth quarter.”

Massapequa has challenged itself with a tough non-league schedule, along with recording conference victories over teams like Syosset and Freeport to open the year. After falling in the Nassau Class AA semifinals last season, Massapequa wants to prove it can play with and defeat the best on Long Island.

“I think we don’t get as much recognition as we should,” Cirabisi said. “So this was definitely a big game for us to prove to other teams how good we are this year.”

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