East Setauket, NY – Once again it was the Cohen-Murtagh connection that did the damage for Ward Melville.
The Lady Patriots seeded at number six in the Suffolk Class AA girls basketball playoffs received major contributions from its two stars as they downed 11-seed Kings Park, 53-39. Caysea Cohen scored a game-high 20 points with 7 assists and Meagan Murtagh added 18 points with 11 rebounds.
“Well it was a big win, we knew that we had to come out strong because we knew they were a tough opponent,” says Murtagh. “We scrimmaged them earlier and we knew they were a great team, so we had to step it up.”
Step it up was exactly what this bunch did as they jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter before Kings Park was able to finally get on the board with a basket by Daniele Buoncore. A three-pointer by the Lady Kingsmen’s Sydney Giacolone the following possession crept Kings Park with nine, but that would be the closest that they would get in this one.
A mid-range jumper and a made free throw by Murtagh closed out the phenomenal quarter of play by the Lady Patriots to extend the lead to 17-5 heading into the second quarter.
The second quarter was pivotal for Ward Melville as they were able to maintain control of the game and outscored Kings Park 10-6 in the frame. For the first half, Ward Melville only had three players in the scorers column, however, those three scorers were Murtagh (13), Cohen (10), and Madison Gorman (4).
Cohen reflecting on how she was so successful against a Kings Park team that came into the contest at 10-2 in League V and an overall record of 14-5, “I’m just trying to penetrate then distribute to my players. I know that once I penetrate their player comes to me, then (my teammate) will be wide-open for the shot.”
That sort of mind-set worked perfectly as Cohen added seven assists, most of those going into the hands of Meagan Murtagh.
“I don’t think we could have done this without Caysea,” says Murtagh. “She runs our offense and she helps everyone else get wide open…so she’s a great help.”
However, the play of Murtagh cannot be overshadowed. Her 18 points, most of which came with mid-range jumpers, but also grit and determination on the inside to grab key rebounds allowed her team to be successful. “When I saw #21 (Danielle Buoncore), who is a great player, lagging off of me I just shot it and had confidence in my shot and it worked,” says Murtagh.
Despite scoring only 15 points through the first three quarters, something lit a spark of offense from Kings Park in the fourth quarter. The Lady Kingsmen totaled 24 points in the final quarter to cut the final score to 53-39, with senior Buoncore scoring 10 of her team-high 14 points in the quarter.
Now looking ahead for Ward Melville, they face a force to reckoned with in three-seeded Riverhead who was able to get by #14-Patchogue-Medford with a 67-46 victory.
“We’ve heard that they are a good team, but we’re not ready to give up,” says Cohen who is a senior heading to Cornell. “I don’t want Wednesday to be my last high school basketball game, so we’re going to come out strong, and hopefully we are going to finish.”
Follow Bill on Twitter @MSGVBillMueller | Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org