COMMACK, New York, Mar. 5
BY: Andrew Wroblewski
What Jillian Spagnuola does for Commack’s girls basketball team doesn’t necessarily always show up on the scorecard. Sure, the sophomore scored 16 points in the Lady Cougars’ 70-48 win over No. 3 Copiague in the Suffolk Class AA semifinals on Friday – but her contribution ran deeper than that.
The 5-foot-2 guard effectively contained one of the best scoring guards in the county, Copiague’s Inhacinse Grady.
“Her contribution [on defense] is as important as scoring 30-35 points… She played great tonight,” Glenn Lavey, the Cougars’ assistant coach, said. “She’s taken out a lot of really good players [during the season]. Grady probably did the best of anybody [defended] by Jill all year. She’s an excellent player – without Jill, I don’t know if we could beat a team like [Copiague].”
Spagnuola and the Lady Cougars held Grady – a top-15 scoring guard in Suffolk County at 18.3 points per game – to 17 points. Grady was the only Eagle to reach double-digits, making Commack just the second team since Jan. 6 to hold Copiague to one scorer with 10 or more points.
But it wasn’t all about defense for Commack.
The Lady Cougars were able to get things done on offense thanks to contributions like junior Leanne Corso’s 13 points and 11 rebounds and, as per usual, Lavey said, the efforts of Jackie DelliSanti. The junior made her 24 points and 10 rebounds – her fifth-straight double-double – look “effortless,” he said.
“[It looks like] she’s going at a nice, smooth speed and everybody else, somehow, is just not getting in front of her,” Lavey said. “When she’s involved it looks like the plays are great, but it’s just that she can score layups, she can hit 3s, she can shoot pull-ups; she’s the reason we’re in the county finals.”
Commack advances to its first county championship game since 2006 – and second-ever, head coach Denis Conroy said. The Lady Cougars are set to take on No. 1 Huntington (21-0) on Tuesday at Ward Melville High School with tip-off scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
“We’re under no illusions. Huntington is an excellent team, but if we can keep playing this well, we’ll take our chances,” Conroy said. “You want to peak in February, and I think we are.”
After scoring 11 points for No. 2 Commack (20-1) in the semifinal, Chelsea Schultz, the Lady Cougars’ 6-foot-1 senior center, looked forward to the next time she and her teammates would get back onto the court.
“Knowing that we’re going to get back there for the first time since 2006, especially as a senior, it’s awesome,” she said. “We’re just hoping for the best.”
Originally published: Long Islander News: The Record
(Thursday, Mar. 5, 2015; A23)