Fortunately for the Southold High School girls basketball team, Sydney Campbell plays a position that suits her personality. “I’m like a control freak,” she said.
Campbell also has an unselfish mentality and doesn’t define her play by points alone. She can take joy in an assist as much as in hitting a 3-point shot.
Sounds like a true point guard.
“They’re never really the ones getting the credit for the points, and they shouldn’t be, but they are the ones that need to help the other people get the points,” Campbell said. “It feels really nice when people compliment you for being the point guard or for being the one that gives [the ball to others]. So, I mean, it doesn’t go unnoticed, necessarily, but it’s not the star role, which is fine.”
Campbell plays a critical supporting role, though, at point guard. With the 5-foot-6 junior running the offense, the First Settlers can rest assured that the ball is in safe hands. The position, she said, requires “a lot of awareness and a lot of unselfish thinking and team thinking.”
Campbell’s introduction to organized basketball, as a third-grader playing for a coed Catholic Youth Organization team, left a positive impression on her. She enjoyed the thrill of playing against boys whose speed and aggressiveness she admired.
That set the course for a basketball life that has Campbell riding high along with her teammates. Suffolk County Class C champion Southold (15-6) will play Nassau County champion Friends Academy (6-12) on Wednesday in a Southeast Region semifinal at Farmingdale State College [Follow along for live coverage at suffolktimes.com]. A positive result in that game would advance Southold to a regional final on Saturday in Farmingdale, and leave the First Settlers one win away from a place in the New York State final four in Troy.
“It’s been the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Justina Babcock, the team’s backup point guard.
The First Settlers have become the talk of the town, no small thanks to Campbell, who has played her role well.
“She’s a great player,” Babcock said. “She has aggressiveness. She scores points. She has pretty much all the aspects of the game, and when she fouls out, it’s hard to get up to her standards because she’s just that good.”
Campbell can score herself, too. She may be the team’s best pure outside shooter.
“Sydney is probably our most lethal 3-point shooter,” coach Katie Hennes said. “If she’s on, everybody else is on, so they feed off of that.”
A confident player, Campbell is not afraid to take the ball to the basket, either.
Hennes said there may be times during Wednesday’s game when Campbell and Babcock are on the court at the same time, with Campbell playing shooting guard and Babcock at the point.
Babcock, a 5-0 sophomore in her first varsity season, has been a steady backup for Campbell. Southold has a third point guard on the roster, freshman Megan Van Bourgondien.
Campbell has been averaging about 5 points and 5 assists per game. Her point production in the playoffs has been down, but as she well knows, points alone do not tell the whole story.
“I try to define myself overall how I played because even if I’m doing really bad on offense, I could have a great defense,” she said. “If we’re winning and my shots aren’t going in, yeah, it’s tough individually, but I have to take a step back and look at the team as a whole.”
Melissa Rogers, who hurt her left wrist in Southold’s previous game, the Suffolk Class B-C-D final against Southampton on Feb. 25, wasn’t wearing a splint around the wrist during Monday’s practice as she had last week. Rogers, wearing street clothes, shot baskets by herself off to the side while the rest of the team practiced.
Although Hennes said she was feeling a bit under the weather herself, she proclaimed the rest of the team, including Rogers, fit to play. She said, “We should be ready to go.”