FIRST SETTLERS 47, WHALERS 41
As far as escape acts go, this one wasn’t bad. Meet the escape artists of Suffolk County League VIII girls basketball: the Southold First Settlers.
After trailing by as many as 13 points and losing one of its best players to injury, Southold somehow clawed its way back and pulled off a 47-41 triumph over visiting Pierson/Bridgehampton on Tuesday night. It was the fourth win in five games for Southold (4-3, 3-1).
The victory did not come without a price, though. Sydney Campbell left the game with a jaw injury. Campbell, whose jaw collided with the head of Pierson/Bridgehampton’s Sydnee McKie-Senior during a scramble for a loose ball, left the game with 7 minutes 8 seconds to go in the fourth quarter. The senior was attended to by emergency rescue personnel in the team’s bench area before being later rolled out of the gym on a gurney to a round of applause from the fans.
“I don’t know exactly what happened,” Southold forward Nicole Busso replied after being asked about the play in which Campbell was injured. “I just turned around and saw a lot of blood, to be honest.”
Southold coach Joe Read said Campbell was “scared because she couldn’t close [her jaw]. It didn’t break, though, I didn’t think.” He added: “I’m praying that she’s all right and nothing’s wrong. Forget basketball, I want her to be healthy.”
Before her departure, Campbell had provided Southold with 10 points in what was a somewhat odd, most definitely ugly game. The teams combined for 67 turnovers.
“It was a win, but it wasn’t a pretty win,” said Busso.
Neither side shot well from the field in the second half. Pierson/Bridgehampton went 4 of 18 and Southold went 3 of 17. The big difference in the game, though, was at the free-throw line, where Southold shot 24 of 39. Pierson/Bridgehampton made 7 of 14 free throws.
Southold earned its first lead since 1-0 when a free throw by Justina Babcock 32 seconds into the fourth quarter made the score 34-33. Later in the quarter, Pierson/Bridgehampton (5-6, 3-2) drew even at 39-39 thanks to a 3-pointer drilled by McKie-Senior and a free throw by Emily Hinz.
But Southold finished strong. A big 3-pointer by Babcock started a game-ending 8-2 run and had Read exulting on the sideline. Busso and Melissa Rogers both made two free throws apiece down the stretch for the First Settlers.
“It kind of slipped away from us,” Pierson/Bridgehampton coach Kevin Barron said. “You got to play 32 minutes against good teams, and Southold’s a good team.”
Pierson/Bridgehampton forward Bridget Canavan clearly wasn’t pleased afterward. “It made me upset because we could have played so much better, and our passes, it was like hot potato,” she said. “We didn’t know what to do. We were scared, I guess.”
Rogers finished the game with 9 points, 4 rebounds, 4 steals and 4 blocks. Busso had 5 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, 1 assist and 1 steal. Babcock had 8 points.
Canavan paced Pierson/Bridgehampton with 13 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 blocks. McKie-Senior chipped in 8 points.
Southold may have surprised Pierson/Bridgehampton by not going with its usual starting lineup. Instead, Read sent out an all-junior starting five of Shannon Smith, Shannon Quinn, Cindy Van Bourgondien, Megan Van Bourgondien and Busso.
But things weren’t flowing for the First Settlers in the early going. Pierson/Bridgehampton opened the game by taking a 15-2 lead. Canavan and Abby Ruiz combined for 13 of those 15 points for the Whalers. It was a near-disastrous start for Southold, replete with what Busso called “devastating plays.” Busso said: “I honestly think that this game was more mental than physical. We knew what to do, but it wasn’t … coming together at all.”
Meanwhile, the Whalers had to be feeling good about the way things were going for them up to that point. “I thought that we had this game,” said Canavan.
By late in the second quarter, though, Southold cut that lead to 22-20 when Michaela Christman hit a short-range jumper, capping a 9-0 spurt for the First Settlers. They were on their way to a rather dramatic turnaround.
Canavan said it was a tough loss, but a “good loss” because it taught her team a valuable lesson.
“Never give up,” she said.