FIRST SETTLERS 42, BEARS 12
Times have changed — dramatically so — at The Stony Brook School.
The Bears have a proud history in girls basketball. Their recent history hasn’t been too shabby, either, with seven straight league championships, six successive Suffolk County titles and four Long Island crowns in the past five years.
But could this season mark the end of a dynasty for Stony Brook?
That very well could be the case for first-year coach Steven Harney and his Bears, who lost five players, including four starters, from last season’s team. Stony Brook is in a rebuilding mode, with a lot to work on.
Times also appear to be changing for Southold, which appears headed in the right direction. Even so, the First Settlers themselves might have been taken aback by how one-sided their 30-point defeat of Stony Brook was on Thursday. And that was without one of Southold’s regular starters, senior guard Lauren Ficurilli, who was out with an ankle injury.
It wasn’t always pretty to watch, but the scoreboard didn’t lie: Southold 42, Stony Brook 12.
“We definitely didn’t expect it to be this easy,” Southold center Nicole Busso said. “It was more of an eye-opener, considering that they had won the league the past [seven] years in a row. It’s an eye-opener to know that we do have a chance and are competing very well this year.”
With the result, Southold brought its record to 3-5, 2-0 in League VIII. They still have a way to go, but it must be comforting for the First Settlers to know that four more wins from their remaining 10 league games would send them into the playoffs.
“It’s an awesome start,” Southold’s rookie coach, Amanda Barrilo, said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Southold took its lumps in non-league games and scrimmages against larger schools, but that experience seems to have prepared the First Settlers well for their league season. Just a few weeks ago the team struggled to break the full-court press. Ironically, it was Southold’s full-court press that helped the First Settlers win their first two league games, including Thursday’s game in Stony Brook.
Southold’s press gave Stony Brook fits. The Bears didn’t reach double figures until Ariana Odom hit a three-point shot from the top of the key with 2 minutes 45 seconds left to play. Those were the game’s final points.
Southold broke the game open with a 15-0 run that bridged the first and second quarters, giving the First Settlers a 19-4 lead. Busso netted all 6 of her points during that run.
Southold made things miserable for the Bears (1-5, 1-1), who were held to four points for the opening 15:23 and trailed, 22-5, at the half. In the second quarter, Stony Brook shot 0 for 8 from the field; it finished the game going 5 for 22 (22.7 percent). Southold’s defensive pressure forced the Bears into committing 41 turnovers.
Melissa Rogers led Southold with 14 points. She also had 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks and 1 assist. Sydney Campbell and Sarah Manfredi added 6 points each. In addition to her points, Busso collected 7 rebounds, 5 steals, 4 blocks and 2 assists. Campbell had 4 assists.
Mikaela Stiklickas was the top scorer for Stony Brook with 4 points. She also grabbed 9 rebounds. Teammate Tylah Grant pulled down 13 rebounds.
“It’s always nice to win that big,” Rogers said. “We see this team going very far, and we all have high hopes.”
Barrilo said the non-league schedule helped Southold identify its weaknesses and work on them. Now, she said, the First Settlers are playing with more confidence.
No, Barrilo said, she couldn’t envision her team beating Stony Brook by 30 points, but that doesn’t mean she was selling the First Settlers short. On the contrary.
“I came into the season with high expectations for these girls,” she said. “I really believe in them and I think they have a lot of talent, and I really think we can do well this year as long as we stay focused and motivated. If they commit themselves and put forth a lot of effort, we will be successful, but it’s up to them to want that.”