Plainedge's Lucy Younghans dribbles downcourt during a Nassau Conference A-I...

Plainedge's Lucy Younghans dribbles downcourt during a Nassau Conference A-I girls basketball game against Lynbrook in North Massapequa on Monday, February 5, 2024. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

It doesn’t have to be perfect but it needs to be disruptive. That’s the style the Plainedge girls basketball team plays, regardless of its opponent.

On Monday, that opponent was the first-place team in its conference. When Plainedge hosted Lynbrook in a Nassau Conference A-I matchup, the Red Devils knew it would be a challenge. But even after trailing by 11 points after the opening quarter, Plainedge stuck to its strengths of a pressured defense and escaped with a 49-44 victory.

“We came into this game and I feel like even though we were the underdogs, all the girls were saying, ‘I’m ready for this game,’ ” said senior guard Lucy Younghans. “We were excited to step out on the court and I think that showed.”

Even when trailing 26-18 at halftime, Plainedge remained confident that its principles would result in a win. Younghans took over in the third quarter, scoring 15 of her 24 points to help Plainedge take a 38-36 lead entering the fourth.

“Honestly, we had nothing to lose in this game,” Younghans said. “At halftime, I knew I had to shoot the ball, look to drive to the basket and they weren’t defending me when I was shooting, so I had to shoot the ball.”

Lynbrook (10-2) scored the first 10 points of the game and opened an 18-5 lead early in the second quarter. Then, star point guard Brooke Mazzei suffered a foot injury, which sidelined her for the remainder of the contest. That’s when Plainedge (7-4) began its comeback.

“I think [Mazzei] takes them to another speed,” Plainedge coach Sarah Tansey said. “She’s so fast and athletic, she’s a great player, and she really changes the pace of the game for them. It was unfortunate when she went down but when she did, we were able to adjust how we play defense and start to press more.”

“Once we started pressing, we got momentum and I always say to the girls that our defense fuels our offense,” Younghans said. “And even though we may not finish our offensive opportunities as much, we play hard defense and that keeps us in games.”

Cate Jennings had 15 points and Jessie Vuotto added 14 for Lynbrook. But Younghans was the difference maker in the second half, including making a three-pointer to give Plainedge a 46-39 lead with 4:25 left in the fourth.

“She is a rare player because what she does on both ends of the floor, you don’t see that often,” Tansey said. “She runs our offense for us and she’s pretty unstoppable… but also what she brings on the defensive end as a leader for the group is just really special.”

Plainedge held Lynbrook to 18 points in the second half, in large part due to the high-intensity press defense.

“You can feel it in the gym, it brings energy and not just to the girls on the court,” Tansey said. “It gets everyone involved and everybody going. They go crazy and everyone just feeds off it.”

Younghans was proud of how the team climbed back after the early double-digit deficit. Plainedge never trailed again after Kiera Reed’s three-point play gave the Red Devils a 33-32 advantage with 1:57 left in the third.

“I think that says a lot about us,” Younghans said. “I feel like that describes exactly what our team is. We’re never out of a game and that’s what I love about this team. We just work our butts off and it really pays off and shows in games like this.”

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