The playoffs and Miller Place have been as synonymous as Papoose and commercial rap. Miller Place has missed out on the postseason since 2002, but it will participate this season after a 56-52 home win over Shoreham-Wading River tonight. Miller Place won the first matchup as well, 57-55, on Dec. 28.
“I thought we were going to be good,” Miller Place junior point guard Deanna Molinelli said, “but I knew once we beat Mount Sinai and Shoreham-Wading River, it gave us the belief we can do it.”
Molinelli scored nine of her 14 points in a 23-19 fourth quarter for Miller Place. The scored was tied at 33 going into the fourth quarter. The biggest lead in the first three quarters was four points and it was mainly a two-point game or less the entire way.
Junior Kaitlin O’Connor, known more for her rebounding, had a season-high 15 points and 17 rebounds. She had two big putbacks in the final quarter.
“She’s been big for us on the boards all year,” Molinelli said.
Marianna Sherman also did a good job rebounding and Dana Giannone (14 points) hit some clutch shots.
Miller Place led by as many as eight in the final quarter, but Samantha Villafranca did all she could to bring SWR back. She was all over the court on both sides of the ball. She had nine of her game-high 28 points in the final 3:57.
“She left her heart out on the court,” SWR coach Dennis Haughney said. “She did everything she could. Her resiliency is awesome. She was trying to find a way.”
In a span of seven seconds early in the fourth quarter, Villafranca block a shot on a fastbreak, blocked another shot and deflected an inbounds pass out of bounds.
SWR played without Corinne Wiederkehr, a 6-foot junior. She has a knee contusion and missed her fourth consecutive game. She is expected to return next Friday.
As for Miller Place, there’s still a chance for a league title. Mount Sinai defeated Amityville to take over first place in League VI with a league record of 8-2. SWR, Miller Place are 7-3 followed by Amityville at 6-4.
“It has been a long struggle,” Miller Place coach Liz Borsetti said. “It’s nice for the kids. They’re having a good time. They grew into their talent. They’re making the strides they need to make. We didn’t talk about the postseason after the game. They were pleased with the win. I didn’t want to bring up postseason. I wanted them to enjoy it. It’s a big deal for us.”
For more on the game, click the link.