Kings Park's Ryan Currier (24) puts one up in the...

Kings Park's Ryan Currier (24) puts one up in the third during the Suffolk Class A semifinals between Kings Park and Shoreham-Wading River on Wednesday Feb 28, 2024. Credit: Bob Sorensen

Ryan Currier will never forget watching the final seconds unwind on the Kings Park girls basketball season last year. It’s a memory that has motivated her and her teammates for the last 12 months. And when Kings Park shared a court on Wednesday with the team that ended its season a year ago, that memory was at the forefront of their minds.

“I can definitely say I was extremely motivated from last year,” Currier said. “I was just thinking about that feeling when I was watching the seconds tick [off] the clock. I was also thinking about last year and something bigger. As a program, we wanted our revenge and I know everyone who was on the team last year had the same feeling.”

It took seconds for Currier to turn that internal feeling into an external display of dominance. The 6-2 senior center had eight blocks, including six in the first half, and completely altered Shoreham-Wading River’s offensive attack as top-seeded Kings Park defeated the fourth-seeded Wildcats, 48-34, in a girls basketball Suffolk Class A semifinal at Centereach High School.

Kings Park fell to Shoreham-Wading River in the Suffolk Class A final last year, 63-56.

“I think they were definitely intimated and they stopped trying to shoot inside, which is definitely why we were able to maintain such a lead,” Currier said. “Because they weren’t as confident offensively.”

Kings Park (17-5) advances to play No. 6 Bayport-Blue Point (15-6) in the Suffolk Class A final at noon on Sunday at Suffolk County Community College’s Selden campus.

Currier, who also had a team-leading 13 points, knew she needed to impose her will in the paint on Wednesday.

“I feel like that’s a huge part of my role on the team and I definitely want to fulfill it, especially in big games like this,” she said. “We always say defense wins championships, so I was really just trying to channel that energy today.”

“She was just an absolute animal down there,” Kings Park coach Tom Edmundson said. “She frustrated them and any player would be frustrated. Any time you get near the rim, you’re getting your shot blocked and she just did an amazing job back there.”

Emily Clemens and Gianna Zawol added 11 points each. Kings Park went on a 13-0 run over 3:26 in the second quarter to open a 17-6 lead with 4:01 left in the period. Both teams struggled offensively early, resulting in a 4-4 tie after the opening quarter, but Kings Park scored 20 points in the second and took a 24-12 lead into halftime.

“That was huge and honestly, it all really starts from our defense,” Edmundson said. “Our defense is what we are. We are a defensive team and we struggle offensively at times but when we can get steals, we can roll and turn our defense into offense and that’s really what our goal is all the time.”

Shoreham-Wading River (15-7) briefly brought their deficit within single digits after a basket from Kady Keegan cut Kings Park’s lead to 37-29 with 7:32 left in the fourth quarter. But Kings Park responded with a 10-0 run over 3:54 to take a 47-29 lead with 1:55 left. Keegan led the Wildcats with 11 points.

Kings Park won the Suffolk Conference III championship in 2021, which was the furthest the team could go in a season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic. But Sunday is the team’s chance for its first county title in program history.

“We have to be really locked in and, now that we've got to this point, we have to prove to ourselves why we’re the No. 1 seed and why we’ve made it this far,” Zawol said. “We have to keep going until the end and I’m very confident in us.”

“We are a completely different team,” Currier said. “And I hope we can show everyone that on Sunday and get the county championship we’ve been working so hard toward for months.”

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