The success of the starters is rubbing off on the Kings Park bench.
In the girls’ basketball team’s monster 90-35 win over Eastport-South Manor Tuesday, every single one of the Kingsmen put points on the scoreboard, aiding in the team remaining undefeated with a 10-0 record in League IV. Kings Park is also on an eight-game winning streak.
“I tell the girls I don’t care who’s on the floor whether you’re our best player or a starter or the 12th girl at the bottom of the bench, when you get out there you play hard and these girls did it,” Kings Park head coach Tom Edmundson said. “We didn’t have any girls left off the scoring table. We had 11 3-pointers, two girls who never scored before hit 3-pointers tonight, so it’s great when everyone can contribute the way we did. It was outstanding.”
Kings Park junior guard and forward Tiffany Slicklein scored the first 14 points of her game-high 21 in the first quarter, all of which were the first points for her team. She also finished with 16 rebounds and seven assists.
The Kingsmen used fast breaks and a full-court press to force turnovers and steal passes, and converted nearly every opportunity into quick points.
“We stress defense all the time,” Slicklein said. “Our defense leads to our offense and that clearly happened today.”
By the end of the first eight minutes, Kings Park jumped out to a whopping 30-11 lead.
“We started the game with our full-court pressure to try to get them off their game, and every time we get a rebound or a steal, we want to go,” Edmundson said. “There’s nothing better than having the ball and scoring within three seconds while the other team may have the ball and it takes them 25 seconds to score.”
Kings Park continued to limit its opponents’ opportunities at a basket while tacking on close to as many points as it did in the first, to take a 51-16 lead into the halftime break.
Also doing a stellar job for the Kingsmen was senior guard Kiera Ahern, who collected 14 points in the first half on two 3-pointers, three field goals and two free throws. Ahern ended the evening with a career-best 20 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
“She’s so smart out there,” Edmundson said of Ahern. “She doesn’t get the recognition a lot of the time because she doesn’t put up big points, but she really in so many ways is the glue to this team. I’m just beyond thrilled that she had a game like this.”
Eastport-South Manor was able to keep up with Kings Park and maintain a quick style of play, but that fizzled out during the second half as the speed wore down the players over time.
After Kings Park held its opponent to three points over the first six minutes of the third quarter, Edmundson dove deeper into his bench to give the other players some time. The Kingsmen used this to their advantage as several girls scored for the first time, and five girls came off the bench — seniors Francesca Timpone and Shannon Donovan with juniors Lauren DeLillo, Toni Labrador and Shannon Savage — all to score 3-pointers.
“It’s nice when you know you have support when you’re coming off the floor that someone else is going to step onto the court and step up and make shots,” Slicklein said.
The bench remained on the court for the final eight minutes of the game, and put up 24 points while holding Eastport-South Manor to 12.
“It’s a great time for us to show off our team skills,” Ahern said. “We’re hoping to win the league, so by making this another statement game it’s a great opportunity to show those teams — and those in the other leagues — that we’re a good team and a tough competitor.”
With the girls playing a makeup game on Monday on account of the weather and with Tuesday’s game being the girls’ “coaches vs. cancer” game, there were a lot of distractions, and Edmundson liked that his team was able to remain focused.
“To play the way they did is a testament to their ability,” he said. “We definitely have the talent, the heart and the dedication to make a county run — we just have to go out there and do it.”
For players like Ahern, she used what the night represented as motivation to shine.
“I played in memory of my uncle and a girl who passed away in our town a couple of years ago and a junior varsity coach,” she said. “I was playing for those who died and survived cancer, so it’s a wonderful feeling to be able to play for them.”
Kings Park is three wins above Hauppauge and Half Hollow Hills West, so if the team can continue its winning ways, the Kingsmen should remain in the top spot. But the girls’ goal is to remain undefeated.
“We’re very confident but we don’t want to get too cocky, so we just want to play our best every day and bring our best to every game,” Slicklein said. “If we continue to do that, I think we’re going to like the outcome.”