When the Massapequa girls basketball team takes the court, you notice something immediately . . . the Chiefs’ height.
They regularly have four players on the court who are at least 5-9, creating matchup nightmares for opposing teams.
Melanie Hingher and Gabriella Heimbauer are particularly imposing. Each stands 6-1 and is tough in the paint. The offense ran through them in Friday night’s 60-33 win over visiting Syosset in Nassau AA-I.
“I can’t imagine what the scouting report is for two 6-1 girls,” Hingher said with a smile.
Hingher and Heimbauer didn’t get much court time together. Hingher, a senior, had 19 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three blocks. Seventeen of her points came in the opening half. Heimbauer, an eighth- grader at Berner Middle School, had eight points, two blocks and two steals, with most of her production coming in the second half.
Both are easygoing off the court. On the court, it’s a different story. They display emotion only rarely, aside from a quick smile here or there, but there’s no denying their might in the paint. Each player has a nice touch around the basket and neither is afraid to get physical — though Heimbauer said she tends to need a little extra motivation to play that way.
Heimbauer played varsity basketball as a seventh-grader, and working with Hingher for more than a year has helped her become more polished. “ teaches me things like powering in,” she said. “It’s great to have a mentor.”
It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. “ teaches me more of the technical stuff, and I’ll tell her to go in with the body,” said Hingher, who has enjoyed having Heimbauer under her wing. “Together we complement each other.”
First-year Massapequa coach Beth Shackel-Scott praised the team’s defensive effort against Syosset (4-3) after her team’s pressure confounded the Braves’ guards. Hingher and Heimbauer punctuated the effort with their presence inside.
“With two big kids underneath and how tall we are, we obviously look to it inside,” Shackel-Scott said.
Though Hingher will graduate in the spring, Massapequa (7-0) won’t have to worry about replacing her under the basket.
“These next four years she has ahead of her, she’s going to have to step up and play a full game,” Hingher said of Heimbauer. “She’s going to have to put the team on her back.”