NORTHPORT, New York, Feb. 19
BY: Andrew Wroblewski
Just as the calm before a storm is an indication of what’s to come, Northport’s head girls basketball coach Rich Castellano knew something was brewing as the Lady Bulldogs of North Babylon came back out onto the floor after halftime on Tuesday to face his Lady Tigers.
A first-round playoff game, No. 4 Northport jumped out to an early 24-11 lead over No. 13 North Babylon, but Castellano prepped his girls for the storm to come.
“They started running at us, and I knew that [they would],” Castellano said.
Behind a team effort, he said, Northport handled that pressure to squander North Babylon’s Brianna Jones’ 30-point night and earned itself a trip to the round of eight with a 56-48 win.
“It’s a compilation of a lot of things coming together at the right time,” Castellano said of the win.
One of those key pieces was the play of Brenna Farrington, a sophomore, who scored 14 points in the win.
“They were just leaving me open,” Farrington said of her offensive outburst. “The zone [they were playing] wasn’t shifting that fast so we were able to hit the [open] shots.”
Farrington’s teammate Sarah Simmons, a senior captain, led Northport in scoring with 17 points of her own – 8 of which came in the fourth quarter. Erin Henningsen, a junior captain, rounded out the Lady Tigers’ leading scorers with a double-double consisting of 14 points and 15 rebounds.
Although North Babylon (10-9) clawed back to within 7 points of Northport’s lead in the fourth quarter, the Lady Tigers were able to hold on thanks to one simple action.
“Our shots were falling,” Farrington said.
Now, Northport (17-2) prepares for its second-round matchup against No. 5 Brentwood (15-4); the Indians also won their first-round matchup on Tuesday, a 40-31 triumph over No. 12 Walt Whitman.
“Brentwood has one of the top scorers in the county [in Alexia Douglas],” Castellano said looking towards the matchup.
Douglas will undoubtedly provide some pressure for Northport to deal with, and Farrington said that’ll be a focus for the Lady Tigers as they prepare.
“When people throw pressure at us we get a little anxious,” she said. “I think we just need to work on that and we’ll be good.”
The second-round game for Northport in this year’s Suffolk County Class AA girls basketball playoffs will be on Friday at Northport; the time had not been decided by press time on Tuesday. There will be a $4 admission charge.
Originally published: Long Islander News: The Record
(Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015; A22)