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Massapequa Bounces Uniondale, Advances to L.I.C.

When your team is losing a game, every basket from the opponent hurts. But the three pointer stings – it’s effect lingers a bit longer and makes your chances of making a comeback seem that much more bleak. Massapequa’s Danielle Doherty stung the Uniondale Knights quite a few times during the Nassau Class AA championship game.

 “I’m so happy to see Danielle have a game like this,” said Massapequa Head Coach Shari Roessler. “She’s coming off a bad ACL injury from lacrosse season last year and played a great game today.”

Showing no signs of injury or fatigue, Doherty’s long range stroke led a well-balanced Massapequa attack in a game where Uniondale never threatened. The Chiefs in turn beat their division rival for the third time this season and brought home their first county title since 2006.

“To [perform like this] in this game feels amazing,” said Doherty, who scored a game high 17 points and was awarded game MVP. “And it feels amazing to finally have that brace off.”

From the opening tip, the Chiefs had the Knights’ number, address, e-mail and every other form of contact information. Pressure defense aborted Uniondale’s chances to set up an offense, and after the first of five Doherty threes on the night, it was a 9-0 game, prompting the Knights to call a time out. Uniondale responded instantly with an inbounds play to get on the board, and some highlights from their senior trio of Aliyah McDonald, (8 points), Jayda Hyatt (a team high 12 points) and Alicia Lebby helped bring them within eight, 20-12. But the turnovers mounted, the firepower fizzled, and the Chiefs took advantage late in the first half, thanks to a deep rotation and multiple sets of fresh legs.

 “It’s great knowing you can go 9 or 10 deep, someone can always step up,” said senior guard Morgan Roessler, who scored 8 points. “It can be any one of us. We don’t drop off.”

With McDonald and Hyatt doing the lion’s share of the work, the Knights began to run out of steam after their first run. Great ball movement, hands in the passing lanes and a deep arsenal of potential scoring weapons all helped spark an 11-0 Massapequa run to close out the half. The Knights closed the lane to stop Lauren Van Buren (10 points) and Melanie Hingher (9 points) from feasting inside, but that left Doherty wide open to keep on punishing from the perimeter. A Doherty trey closed the half, and Massapequa’s lead had ballooned to 19, 31-12.

Uniondale put up a better fight in the third quarter, but chipping away at a lead that continues to be padded by three pointers is a run in quicksand. McDonald tried to shake and bake her way to the hoop for some momentum, but the offense was forced and frustration set in on the Knights. To make the task seem even more insurmountable, Uniondale’s freshman slinger, Ashly Jara, couldn’t get going to counter Doherty’s aerial assault, and her fifth and final three made it a 21 point game, 45-24, early in the fourth. After that, it was simply a matter of running out clock.

Massapequa faces Suffolk champs, Sachem East, next Friday at Hofstra (8PM). One can only wonder who'll step up for the Chiefs when the title for the region is on the line.

“Our depth works for us no matter who we play, it could be anyone," said Coach Roessler. "We’re always rotating. It's not even a matter of who steps up each game. A different person can step up each quarter.”

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