Trailing by double digits after watching one of their best players helped off the court, the Huntington girls’ basketball players had to look deep within themselves.
Instead of folding, the Blue Devils staged a remarkable rally to overcome host Smithtown West, 62-56, Tuesday.
Sophomore Alexandra Heuwetter scored 22 points and had six rebounds and five blocks, and senior Katie Reilly had 15 points and six assists to lead Huntington’s comeback.
Anna Gulizio came off the bench and picked up 11 points and four rebounds. Brooke Baade had 10 points, including a pair of three-pointers, and Abby Maichin had four points and three rebounds.
Befuddled by Smithtown West’s press, Huntington (11-2 overall; 9-1 in league play) had trouble bringing the ball up the court early in the game, repeatedly committing turnovers.
Coupled with the loss of senior Taylor Moreno, who hit the court hard just two minutes into the game and was unable to return to play, the Blue Devils struggled during the opening six minutes before closing hard to cut their deficit to 19-15 by the end of the first quarter.
“We settled the game down a bit after a lot of frantic play,” Reilly said. “It was definitely a scary sight to see one of our best players go down. I think it motivated us to win even more.”
Huntington went on an 18-9 second-quarter run to grab a 33-28 halftime lead, but Smithtown West (7-6 overall; 6-4 in the conference) wasn’t quite finished. The Bulls staged a rally of their own to retake the lead, and the teams battled toe-to-toe throughout the third quarter, with the advantage seesawing back and forth.
The Blue Devils led 46-43 entering the final frame before sharp shooting and stifling defense allowed Huntington to go ahead 58-47 as the clock ticked down. But, once again, Smithtown West rallied to close to within three points with little time remaining.
Huntington hit several crucial free throws in the final minute to put the game on ice.
Unlike most game days that see the junior varsity team play first, Huntington and Smithtown West took the court at 4:15 p.m. after many players on both teams had sat through midterm exams earlier in the day.
“We just had a slow start since we played first and were away, but after we got into our groove and started communicating and playing our game,” Baade said. “We were able to come back.”
Huntington will host Centereach on Friday at 6:15 p.m.