By Bill Landon
Harborfields’ Kate Tardo is the core of her team’s defense, who according to head coach Glenn Lavey is always tasked with guarding the opponent’s leading scorer. True to form, the senior held her opponent to just one basket in Harborfields’ crushing defeat of Amityville, 73-32, on the road Feb. 7.
“She’s probably the most unsung hero probably in the county,” Lavey said of Tardo. “She has an assignment to guard really good players — [La’Niya Clark] is a 1,000-point scorer and Kate held her.”
Clark went on to score 13 points.
Lavey added that his All-County player does things behind the scenes that are an integral part of the team’s success.
“It’s like noticing an offensive lineman — no one notices the right tackle, they notice Tom Brady, so she’s the one that protects Brady, but all they write about is Tom Brady.”
Harborfields led 19-5 after eight minutes of play, and jumped ahead 41-21 by the halftime break.
“Our energy — we just kept pushing the ball,” Tardo said. “We were tiring them out and getting them frustrated. We kept up our pace and our intensity the entire game. We played a full 32 minutes.”
The defense held the Warriors at bay at every turn, as the shot clock worked against the home team. This is a tactic Lavey said his team has employed effectively all season.
“We haven’t given up more than 37 points in a game all season,” he said. “That’s why we know we have a chance to go all the way — it’s because of our defense.”
Even after swapping his starters for bench players, Amityville couldn’t close the gap.
Senior Christiana de Borja led all scorers with 16 points and had seven assists. Eighth-grader Madison Brady, who hit a pair of 3-pointers, six free-throws and a field goal was close behind with 14 points, and senior Grace Zagaja finished with a double-double on 13 points and 11 rebounds.
“We kept our composure throughout the game,” Zagaja said. “We kept our energy up and that frustrated them. We kept picking at them until they [made mistakes], and then we started to make baskets, and that’s kinda how we do it.”
With the win, Harborfields, at 15-1 overall and 12-1 in League V, secured at least a share of the league title. Sayville currently sits at 11-2, so if Harborfields doesn’t win its final game of the regular season, a home game against Islip on Feb. 9, and Sayville wins its matchup, the two would share the top spot. Weather permitting, tip-off for the game against Islip is scheduled for
Lavey said although he’s not looking past Islip at home, his team needs to transition into playoff mode.
“What we want to get better at is running the floor and getting easier baskets,” he said. “We attack the rim, but we want to get the ball up the court, reverse and attack and not let our opponent set up its defense.”
Floor general de Borja, who is good at controlling the tempo this way, said she believes if the team keeps doing what it’s been doing, it’ll be successful.
“We definitely have the will to win, we just need the will to prepare in this home stretch,” she said. “And if we do that, I think we’ll have a good playoff run.”