Behind junior Taylor Tripptree’s 18 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, the Ward Melville girls’ basketball team was able to edge ahead of nonleague competitor Islip Saturday and maintain its advantage after the first quarter to earn a 55-49 victory.
“I think we honestly played a very, very good game,” Tripptree said. “They’re a very good team and we did what we had to do to do against two Division I and two Division II girls. We played as a team and I think that’s what won us the game.”
Islip got on the board first with two free throws, but a free throw by junior Julia Coletti and a layup by Tripptree put the team out in front, 3-2. The two teams continued to trade scores, with junior guard Brooke Pikiell scoring a three-pointer and a layup and Tripptree adding another field goal, but at the end of the first, the teams were in a stalemate at 10-10.
“We really need to work on our second-shot opportunities and staying in [to] help against a big girl,” Tripptree said.
Ward Melville had trouble sinking its shots, but during the second stanza, the Patriots began to find their rhythm. Islip scored first, again, and made another field goal to jump out in front, 14-10, but the lead didn’t last for long.
With 5:12 left in the half, Tripptree tacked on a three-pointer of her own to pull within one, 14-13, and senior Heidi Scarth scored two field goals, the first off an assist from Pikiell, to give the Patriots the lead for good.
Ward Melville rounded out the scoring for the first half with a three-pointer to bring the score to 22-18.
Junior Kiera Ramaliu opened the third with a long field goal, and Islip edged close after a field goal and two free-throw points, but the Patriots wouldn’t let the Buccaneers stay close for long.
Tripptree began a six-point scoring run with a field goal, and Pikiell scored twice in a row to put the Patriots up 30-22.
Tripptree assisted on her team’s next points, and followed it up with another layup, and at the end of three quarters Ward Melville was ahead 40-29.
“You’ve gotta run and you’ve gotta pressure,” Ward Melville head coach Bruce Haller told his girls on the sidelines before the start of the final stanza.
And the girls raced across the court and pressured the ball, converting turnovers and forcing steals to trip up Islip.
“We prepared for this a lot,” Pikiell said. “We made sure we knew their zone and we knew who their good kids were and we just made sure we had a body on them at all times. I think we ran and tired them out a lot, and I think we really worked together on defense, which helped against their bigger girls.”
The teams continued to trade points, but Ward Melville managed to maintain its advantage to pull away with the win.
Behind Tripptree was Pikiell with nine points, and Scarth with eight, but five other girls also scored.
“Everyone contributed to this,” Pikiell said. “We’ve come together very well. We only lost one player last year and a couple of players came up, but we were all already very close beforehand, so I think we’re playing great together.”