By Bill Landon
Behind Centereach junior Cassidy Treanor’s 13 points, the Cougars held off a third-quarter charge by Newfield to defeat their crosstown rival 37-24 on their own court Tuesday.
Centereach broke out to an early lead, 12-5, as Treanor led her team in the opening quarter by scoring a pair of field goals and a three-pointer at the buzzer.
The Cougars controlled the tempo of the game early as senior Katrina Gangji dominated the boards with 11 rebounds on the evening.
The Wolverines fought back and managed to close within six points, mainly due to senior Maria Daume’s two field goals and sophomore Emily Diaz’s three-pointer with 4:55 left in the second period, but the team still couldn’t come any closer than that until the third quarter.
Diaz said her team tries to forget what has happened in the past and only focus on fixing their mistakes. “At the half, coach told us we had to mark up better, hustle back and finish on our shots,” she said. “But it’s always fun playing against them because we’re all good friends.”
Centereach sophomore Erin Tuomey also made her presence known down low with an impressive rebounding performance under the boards.
“Our team had good communication,” she said. “Everyone was talking and I think we were getting in their heads.”
Trailing 20-12 opening the second half, Newfield abandoned its zone defense and went man-to-man, which caught Centereach off guard.
“It’s pretty tough,” Newfield senior Muariana Milano said of the crosstown competition. “People talk about it so much, but it’s a rivalry — everybody knows each other. We usually play zone, but coach told us to get up in their face and we’re not used to playing like that.”
The Wolverines’ swarming defense turned the tables as Centereach struggled for open looks, forcing them to shoot from outside.
“We cut it to four points near the end of the third quarter, but then I think we lost a little energy,” Newfield head coach Jamie Santiago said. “We were dead tired going man-to-man the whole time to try to get back in the game.”
Newfield clawed back from another deficit to trail 29-22 to open the final quarter, but didn’t come any closer the rest of the way.
“Our team tends to play to the other team’s speed, and when that happens, the coach always tells us to slow down,” Treanor said. “Coach told us at the half that we play our best when we play our game, and that’s when you get the win.”
Centereach made an adjustment in the final eight minutes of play, and was able to hold Newfield to just two pints as a result, while Gangji, Treanor and senior Erica Medina combined for eight points to put the game away.
“Defensively, we played very, very well in the first half,” Santiago said. “If we could have made a couple of easy layups and a few free throws, the score would’ve been a little closer.”
Centereach head coach James Steigele said the crosstown rivalry is important.
“It’s always an important game, because both teams come out to play and they play hard,” the coach said. “It’s always a nail-biter.”
With the win, Centereach improves to 6-4 in League III, while Newfield falls to 2-8. With four games remaining in regular-season play, the Cougars are back in action Friday night when they hit the road to take on Huntington at 6:15 p.m. The Wolverines host West Islip on Thursday, Jan. 28, with a 5:45 p.m. tipoff scheduled.