Everyone has heard the saying, “defense wins championships,” however Valerie Oyakhilome has a different saying to play basketball by, “defense wins game and offense sells tickets.”
On Wednesday night, the senior did both of those.
Oyakhilome scored 30 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as the Bulldogs topped Mattituck, 67-46, in the championship game of the Lindenhurst Girls Basketball Tournament.
“We spend a lot of time on defense,” says the 5-foot-9 guard. “That’s what I say, I know it’s corny, but it’s the truth.”
That stingy Lindenhurst defense showed its head from the get-go as the Bulldogs rushed out to an 11-0 to start the game. Oyakhilome scored seven of the first 11 points for Lindenhurst.
After a three-pointer from Mattituck’s Shannon Dwyer gave the Tuckers their first points in the game, Nicole Murphy was fed on a nice pass Katie Hoeg for a bucket that cut the lead to 11-5. That would be the closest that Mattituck would get in the championship game as Lindenhurst would immediately go on an 18-0 stretching well within the second quarter to make it a 29-5 ballgame.
Mattituck (1-2) would make a run to stay in contention in the second quarter as they would go on a 12-5 run to cut the lead to 34-16 at halftime capped by a pair of free throws by Hoeg (5 points, 5 rebounds).
Returning from the halftime intermission, the Bulldogs would continue to rely on their senior leaders Oyakhilome and Nicole Intrieri. In the first half, Valerie had already set the tone offensively with 16 points, but also defensively with 5 rebounds and a steal. However, it was Intrieri who filled up multiple aspects of the score sheet in the first half with her 6 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 4 steals.
“Last year I was a part of following all the other seniors because they had been here the longest,” says Oyakhilome. “Now, Nicole and I have to take a leadership role in teaching the others how to take advantage of opportunities to make our team go.”
Lindenhurst came out on fire in the second half as they would shortly go on a 13-2 run that blew the game wide-open at 47-20 halfway through the third quarter en route to their 67-46 victory.
For the game, Intrieri finished with 9 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, and 5 steals, while Randi Zorn contributed 12 points and 3 rebounds. On the flip side, Shannon Dwyer’s 16 points and Allie Wilcenski’s 13 points and 6 rebounds led the Tuckers offensively.
“We just need to play our game,” Oyakhilome says, “just run down the court and play hard.”
If Oyakhilome and the rest of her Lindenhurst counterparts continue to play like this throughout the 2012-13 season they will be selling tickets en route to a championship run.
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