Things have changed since Nora Gabel scored 50 points in Comsewogue’s 75-58 win over Centereach last Tuesday.
The 5-8 senior guard already was a focal point of opposing defenses, but now that’s been amplified. Teams have been throwing frequent double teams, and occasionally triple teams, her way, but coach Joe Caltagirone said the team has adjusted.
There’s good reason behind the increased efforts to slow her down. When she hit the half-century mark against Centereach, a performance that included 20 points in the fourth quarter, she was remarkably efficient.
She was 6-for-6 from long range, 8-for-12 from the field and 16-for-23 from the free-throw line, setting a school record for points scored in a single game and earning Newsday’s Athlete of the Week honors.
“It’s tough. You can’t simulate it in practice,” Caltagirone said of opposing teams’ strategies. “They attack her sometimes from the top. Sometimes they get her as she’s going through the lane. I know teams try to be physical with her, try to get her agitated, but she keeps her demeanor.”
Gabel said her goal isn’t necessarily to score whenever she has the ball, although she is the Warriors’ top option with 23.1 points per game during their 5-1 start. She tries her best to keep everyone involved, and battling multiple defenders at once could leave her the opportunity to find open shooters along the perimeter.
“They just need to be in the open spot so I can get them the ball,” she said, “so they can win the game with their own skills.”
A soccer player at the start, Gabel said she initially picked up basketball to stay in shape for soccer. Now that has reversed, with basketball representing her top sport and soccer being used as a means of conditioning.
She said she’s being recruited for basketball and has a few offers.
“She’s an all-around player,” Caltagirone said. “I think because she’s put up some good numbers over the years, she’s looked at as a scorer. She does a lot more. She does a lot on the defensive end. Sometimes we’ll give her the toughest matchup.”
Indeed, she’s capable of filling the boxscore. In her 50-point game, she chipped in 10 rebounds and four assists. Against Pierson/Bridgehampton two days after, she had 17 points, five assists and three rebounds.
Her all-around contributions have given Comsewogue high aspirations for her senior season. Despite the increased efforts from defenses, Comsewogue is sticking to the status quo.
“We’re trying to keep it the same as it always is,” she said. “Just because I luckily got 50 points in the game, the game plan isn’t just, ‘Oh, give the ball to Nora.’ ”
That’s not a bad backup plan, though.