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Charlotte Cavaliere helps Plainedge defense stifle Bethpage

Plainedge junior forward Charlotte Cavaliere hauled in a final-second defensive rebound to help lift the Red Devils to a 37-34 victory over Bethpage on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. (Credit: Newsday / Laura Amato)

For the Plainedge girls basketball team, the best offense was a good defense.

In a game where their shots didn’t often fall, the Red Devils held on for a 37-34 victory over Bethpage in Nassau A-IV Monday night, recording a pair of defensive stops in the final 20 seconds to stay undefeated in conference play.

“Our defense is the one thing that we always have down,” said junior forward Charlotte Cavaliere, who finished with four points and 16 rebounds. “In order for us to be a good team, we have to be super aggressive and I think that’s what it came down to here.”

After Bethpage’s Leah Bestany made it 32-all with 5:21 left, the Red Devils responded with a flurry of defense, highlighted by a half-court deflection to score Emily Tierney in transition. Tierney added two more shots from the line to give Plainedge a 36-32 lead with 1:34 to play.

“I just wanted to be aggressive,” said Tierney, who finished with 14 points. “We knew that we had to play good defense, be smart with the ball and make sure that we don’t turn it over.”

Bethpage (2-2) wouldn’t go down quietly. The Golden Eagles made it a two-point game on Anna Hughes basket with 44 seconds left and had two chances at the hoop late, but Plainedge’s defense held up.

Cavaliere hauled in a rebound with five seconds left, dishing it to Julia Foppiano who drew a foul and went 1 of 2 at the line. The Red Devils then locked in on the final play, forcing a quick Bethpage shot from behind the arc.

“During the timeout, my coach said, ‘Get the rebound and hold the ball,' ” Cavaliere said. “I knew if we got the rebound, the game was ours, so holding onto the ball and squeezing it was the most important thing.”

Plainedge (3-0) brought defensive pressure throughout the game, switching between zone, man, and a full-court press that forced Bethpage into turnovers. Coach Sarah Tansey credited the defense for forcing Bethpage into traps and keeping the Golden Eagles from hitting their stride.

“We like to switch it up,” Tansey said. “Once we think a team is getting comfortable against one thing, we like to throw something else at them.”

It wasn’t a perfect game, but it was a win and that was the only thing Plainedge cared about.

“We only gave up 34 points, which is great,” Tansey said. “We only scored 37, but all we had to do was score more than 34 to win. Our defense definitely saved us.”

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