Morgan Camarda was the first to admit that she and her teammates aren’t primarily basketball players.
That didn’t stop them from turning a close game into a rout, as Massapequa used its athleticism and incessant pressure to stifle Oceanside, 65-37, in a Nassau AA-I girls basketball game Friday night.
Massapequa broke open the game with an 18-0 run in the third quarter.
Camarda, who stars in soccer, played relentless defense and orchestrated an offense focused on ball movement. Alexa Gentile, a lacrosse player for the two-time defending county champions, scored 17 points and also had four steals.
“Their athleticism is something they’re finally realizing is transferrable on the court,” coach Billy Herr said. “To get to where we were tonight took a long time, and they’re finally realizing they can take chances and trust each other and play more aggressively.”
Gentile came off the bench to provide an immediate spark, jumping passing lanes and pushing the ball up the court. She and Brittny Membreno (16 points) scored 15 of the team’s 18 points in the game-changing spurt. Helena Salmon (14) hit a three-pointer during the run.
“Right when I step on the court, I know that I was put on for a reason,” said Gentile, a sophomore. “I try to help out and share the ball.”
The 18-0 run turned a four-point lead into a 50-28 advantage. It was the Chiefs’ defense that influenced it all, as 12 of the points came on layups in transition.
“We’re a very fast team, we’re very fit,” Camarda said. “We work on that a lot in practice, just running up and down the court. We push it as much as we can.”
Gentile also played a role in containing standout Jamie Behar of Oceanside (0-5). The 6-3 sophomore scored a game-high 20 points, but Gentile held her to four points in the second half. Behar, a Newsday Top 25 Player to Watch, cut the deficit to six points at halftime with a buzzer-beating three-pointer from just beyond half court.
Massapequa (5-0) is using last year’s defeat in the Nassau Class AA championship game against Baldwin as fuel for this season. The Chiefs led by a point at halftime but lost, 37-29. Baldwin went on to win a state title.
“We use it as motivation every day,” Salmon said. “We never want to feel that way again.”