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SportsHigh SchoolGirls Basketball

Caroline Ruggiero helps Syosset roll over Massapequa

Sophomore guard Lilah Grubman discusses Syosset’s 68-36 victory over Massapequa in a Nassau AA-I girls basketball matchup on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020. (Credit: Newsday / Laura Amato)

The Syosset girls basketball team wanted to get out and run on Tuesday night.

Sparked by a strong full-court press and a quick offense, the Braves cruised to a 68-36 victory over Massapequa in Nassau AA-I, staying undefeated in conference play.

“I think our transition game worked really well,” said guard Lilah Grubman, who finished with 17 points. “We got the ball up the court quickly and everything else grew out of there.”

Syosset (3-0) set the tone from the opening possession as guard Kendall Halpern hit a three-pointer from the corner. It was more than enough to jumpstart the Braves and they didn’t slow down the rest of the night.

Forward Caroline Ruggiero led the charge, scoring 11 of her 21 points in the first quarter, before Syosset took a 32-20 lead into the break.  

“I really wanted to push on them,” Ruggiero said. “The ball just fell in the hoop today.”
With the offense firing early, Syosset settled into its defensive game plan, bringing pressure from every angle and forcing Massapequa (1-2) into turnovers and one-and-done possessions. Ruggiero credited the Braves for their presence on the boards, saying it was “one of the biggest things we wanted to focus on today.”

Coach Michael Ferreira echoed the sentiment, adding that the Braves pride themselves on their defensive mindset.

“That defense is part of our culture,” Ferreira said. “The best part of this group is that the bench sees it and they see where we may have a weakness. They’re always coaching each other up, so it’s fun to watch them run.”

Syosset didn’t miss a step in the second half. After Massapequa’s Meghan Wildes made it a 45-30 game with 2:55 left in the third, the Braves responded with an 11-point run, capped by Grubman’s buzzer-beating jumper.

Down the stretch, Grubman said Syosset was focused on ball movement when it did run plays, working an inside-out game that keep Massapequa on its toes.

“We like to get the ball inside because it’s a higher percentage look, but we also have good three-point shooters,” Grubman said. “So it’s a win-win for us. Everybody is a scorer on this team.”

It was a solid win for Syosset, but the Braves also know that their ultimate goal, a deep run in the postseason, is a marathon, not a sprint, and they’re not taking anything for granted.

“It’s nice, but we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,” Grubman said. “We still push ourselves and we’re going to keep working.”

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