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McDonald, Hyatt propel Uniondale over Mepham, 70-32

There's the old basketball adage of "no rebounds, no rings," and on Tuesday afternoon the Uniondale Lady Knights made sure they lived by that. They also understand the advantage of having a guard-forward tandem that knows and understands each other's very move. 

"[Senior guard] Aliyah [McDonald] and I know each others games really well," said senior forward Jayda Hyatt. "We pick each other up." 

Between Hyatt's utter dominance of the paint and McDonald's combo guard prowess, the duo worked their magic as sixth seeded Uniondale convincingly downed third seeded Mepham on the road, 70-32. 

Both teams came out fully-charged, with Mepham's tandem of Megan Anderson (6 points) and freshman Ally Murphy (9 points) scoring off crisp ball movement to counter McDonald's offensive exploits and the three point range of Ashley Jara (who nailed three treys in the first quarter for all 9 of her points). Mepham senior Senior Nicole Castaldo (who scored a team high 10 points) completed a back door play to even the score at 9, but that would signal the end of the Lady Pirates' early burst of momentum. Hyatt crashed the party and the game would never be the same. 

"[Hyatt] was a beast today, she was insane, there's really no other way to say it," said Uniondale Head Coach Danielle Nicol with a laugh. "I knew [Mepham] could shoot the ball really well, but our plan was to dominate inside. We knew we'd be able to get inside their zone [defense], and Jayda was a catalyst for us in the first half."

McDonald went from percolator to facilitator, feeding the Hyatt in the post. The inside buckets came in droves. Conflated with offensive rebounding woes on the other end of the floor, Mepham found themselves in dangerous waters. In fact, Uniondale's complete dominance of the glass is what made all the difference.

"Nobody in the gym can jump higher than Jayda," said McDonald of her teammate. "And we've been playing together for so long, we know how to help each other out and get each other involved."

When Hyatt was done bounding, pounding, astounding and downright dominating the paint, she'd scored 18 first half points, spearheaded a 15-0 Uniondale run that stymied Mepham and put them in a 39-19 ditch at the half. 

The Lady Knights maintained their comfortable cushion in the second half, as McDonald went back to tallying buckets and proved too quick and too athletic for Mepham. Additionally, the rebounding deficiencies continued to haunt the hosts - Hyatt, MacDonald and center, Yadelin Martinez, secured second, third and fourth opportunities on offense and limit Mepham on the other end of the floor. Uniondale's lead ballooned to a whopping 40 points and Mepham never regained their early spark. 

Hyatt's game high 23 points and McDonald's 20 paced the Lady Knights. Uniondale will face Farmingdale in the Nassau AA semi-finals next week at Garden City HS at 7PM. 

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