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Melanie Hingher helps Massapequa win nail-biter in Nassau AA semi

Massapequa's Melanie Hingher goes up with the ball,

Massapequa's Melanie Hingher goes up with the ball, defended by Farmingdale's Sam Huebner, during their Class AA semifinal game at LIU Post in Brookville Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016. Credit: Barry Sloan

Melanie Hingher won’t tape the headlines and stories from Saturday night’s win on the wall in the gym.

No. 2 Massapequa survived a thrilling finish in a 41-37 win over No. 6 Farmingdale in a Nassau Class AA girls basketball semifinal at LIU Post, but the wall gets decorated with headlines, stories and boxscores only when the Chiefs lose.

“One headline says ‘Massapequa falls short’ and we have that highlighted,” Hingher said. “Sometimes it’s hard to wake up at 8 in the morning and go practice. When you look up on the wall and see that, it gives you a little extra motivation.”

Perhaps that little extra motivation helped Hingher score 22 points and make a crucial steal in the closing seconds. Or it might have helped Mikayla Pugliese, usually more of a distributor, knock down the go-ahead basket. And it could have helped Morgan Camarda, a 5-5 point guard, who aggressively tied up the ball against a taller opponent to earn a possession and seal the win.

“Nobody wanted it to end tonight,” Massapequa coach Beth Shackel-Scott said.

Aisha Smilke hit a three- pointer with 3:10 left to give Farmingdale a 37-36 lead as the Dalers erased a 12-point deficit. But Pugliese drained a jumper from just inside the three-point line to put Massapequa back on top, 38-37, with 1:36 left.

“I’m very hesitant shooting,” said Pugliese, who had four points. “But I felt like it was the right time and place to shoot it.”

With Farmingdale trying to advance the ball with less than 30 seconds left, Hingher intercepted an outlet pass along the sideline. “My teammates did a great job of trapping her and I knew it was her only option, so I just jumped the pass,” she said.

A flagrant foul was called and Hingher hit a free throw to make it 39-37. Camarda’s free throw on the ensuing possession made it 40-37. Then she tied up her opponent at midcourt, giving possession to Massapequa with 7.4 seconds left. Camarda added another free throw to seal it.

Massapequa (18-3) will face Baldwin, which defeated the Chiefs for the last two championships, in the Nassau final.

“We’ve been preparing for them from the first day of tryouts,” Hingher said. “We’ve been studying their players, watching film and traveling to their games. I think we’re ready.”

Ready to change those headlines.

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