Nora Gabel leads Comsewogue to win over Westhampton

Nora Gabel leads Comsewogue to win over Westhampton

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Girls' basketball team already making huge strides this season

Nora Gabel dribbles the ball around a Westhampton opponent. Photo by Desirée Keegan

What a difference a year can make.

With the Comsewogue girls’ basketball’s 54-37 win over Westhampton Jan. 10, the Warriors have already improved on last season’s League V record. Junior guard Nora Gabel, who experienced the struggles of last season first-hand, is leading the way this year.

Megan Turner moves the ball up the court. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“Westhampton is always a really close game — we’re really evenly matched, and last year we lost to them in overtime at the buzzer, so we came in knowing not to take it easy,” Gabel said.

The junior scored a game-high 23 points in the win, but classmate Megan Turner was responsible for getting the ball rolling.

Turner tallied 10 points in the first quarter to help the Warriors to a 20-8 lead after eight minutes. Senior Sam Collins added five points and Gabel chipped in four in the opening quarter.

Gabel said the team was successful because of the way the Warriors not only schemed against their opponent but also their unselfish team play.

“We knew what strategies they were going to use, so we practiced plays around it and helped other girls get to the basket to score,” she said. “We set a lot of screens to help others get open. No one is a selfish player. We pass each other the ball, and it helps.”

She said that was part of the team’s problem last season, which led to a 3-9 League V record. With the win over Westhampton, Comsewogue is now 4-1.

Sam Collins shoots a three-pointer. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Warriors slowed down in the second, scoring seven points — four from junior Georgia Alexiou — but still took a 27-16 lead into the locker room.

“We got stops when we needed it,” Comsewogue head coach Joe Caltagirone said. “I wasn’t too happy with the rebounding in the first half, but it was better in the second half. We have a few girls that can score and a few girls that play good defense, so we just play a good team game.”

The team rode the hot hand in the second half.

Gabel came out guns blazing, scoring the first nine points for her team with two field goals, a three-point play and two free throws.

“We’re able to force a lot of turnovers — we steal the ball a lot — and we’re fast too, so we can capitalize on those turnovers and get easy baskets,” Gabel said.

She had two breakaway baskets and five steals, and finished the scoring in the third with a buzzer-beating layup that put her team up 42-28.

“I was happy that she got a little more aggressive in the second half,” Caltagirone said of Gabel. “I think she was a little passive in the first half, but she totally changed the momentum of the game because they thought they had her in check, and then she got a couple of easy baskets in the third quarter and they exerted a lot of energy trying to play catch-up.”

The Warriors were able to control the final eight minutes, with Gabel scoring seven of the team’s 12 points.

Lauren Gray carries the ball into Westhampton’s zone. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“She scores in a variety of ways — she can hook the threes, she gets to the basket, she gets to the line; she’s shifty,” Caltagirone said. “She has a couple of moves in her arsenal she can use at any time. She takes pride in what she does and she works hard. There are games where she doesn’t score as much, but we win, and she’s happy with that, too.”

Gabel said she’s most excited about making a statement this season.

“Our games haven’t been that close, so I think we have a better chance of coming second in the league, or maybe even taking first if we beat Harborfields the second time we play them,” she said. “I want to make playoffs this season. Last season we were the underdogs and everyone thought we were so bad, and it’d be nice to show them who we really are.”