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FLORIDA, NY — Make no bones about it, Seward’s game plan going into the Section IX Class C girls’ basketball semifinals against Sullivan West was to stop Sabrina Martinez.
And without a shadow of doubt, the Lady Spartans shut down the Lady Bulldogs ace shooter, as they held Martinez to a meager four shots (0-4), holding her to a single point from the free throw line (1-2).
Seward’s #24 senior guard, Gina Emanuele, standing at just 5 feet 5 inches, rose to the occasion, as she completed her assigned duty, which was to keep Sullivan West’s tall timber out of the paint.
Martinez never flinched from the fight and has the bruises to show for it.
As the battle raged under the glass, she got repeatedly knocked off her pins and onto the court: elbows, knees and, finally, a hip injury that sidelined her at the 4:24 mark in the final frame with Seward in the lead 46-38.
The Lady Spartans’ roster includes a couple of pit-bulls under the glass, in the guise of Josely Medina and Aridana Campus—hoopsters that aren’t afraid of dishing it out for possession with a no-quarter, in-your-face style of
Going into the Section IX semifinal on Monday, February 25 at the “Home of the Spartans,” the rivals had met twice before in regular season competition: on January 17, the Lady Bulldogs came from behind to win 44-43, and on February 7, the Lady Spartans defeated Sullivan West 46-41.
In the semifinal match, the squads battled to a 10-10 tie at the close of the first frame, and, in the second period, the Lady Bulldogs edged Seward 9-8, to take a one-point halftime lead (19-18).
The third period was "big" for the Lady Spartans as they outpaced Sullivan West 20-10, and, in the final frame, edged their opponents 14-12 on the way to a 52-41 victory.
Joe DiMattina, coach of the Lady Spartans, (16-4) said his team’s primary objective was to “keep Sabrina out of the paint.” The only thing that keep them alive was their 3-pointers.
“I give a lot of credit to Gina [Emanuele] who played against Sabrina, and our eighth-grader Shannon Sgombick.”
Sullivan West coach Pat Donovan took the loss hard, but said that, on the bright side, the Lady Bulldogs had a lot of confidence this year. They finished the season 15-5.
Cutting to the chase when asked about his take on the game, Donovan replied, “We got out-rebounded.”
Sullivan West’s leading scorers: Isabel “Izzy” Nearing (18 points including four 3-pointers: two in the second frame and two in the third), Kerintin Burr (12 points, all 3-pointers: one in the first period, another in the second frame, and two in the final period) and Josephine Martinez (9 points).
Seward: Shannon Sgombick (17 points, including an impressive five 3-pointers), Josely Medina (11 points including a 3-pointer), Alexa Roach (11 points including a 3-pointer) and Aridana Campos (9 points).
Stats from the free throw line: Sullivan West 9/12 (75%), Seward 6/14 (42%).
After the shouts of victory subsided for the victors, and the tears had dried for Sullivan West, a couple of the Lady Bulldogs had their say on the season of hoops.
“I’ve got to give all the credit to the rest of my teammates and all five of us,” said Nearing, referring to the three other seniors (Kara Spath and the Martinez twins). This was their final basketball game for Sullivan West.
Asked what it was like to play the last game wearing a Lady Bulldogs basketball uniform, she replied, “It’s painful… We’ve been playing since eighth grade for Mr. Donovan, such a long time, and some of the best coaches… you couldn’t ask for better coaches, on the court and off the court.”
“It’s bittersweet… We’ve had a good 15-5 record, which is incredible,” said Kara Spath. “We bounced back from losses. The tears and everything else… the girls in the program were so good. I can’t give them enough respect, they are really good.”