HUNTINGTON, New York, Mar. 5
BY: Andrew Wroblewski
Tears ran down her face.
On Saturday when the Blue Devils competed for a trip to the Suffolk Class AA final, Mackenzie Maloney couldn’t help but cry. Not because Huntington lost – they ultimately won, in fact, 58-35 over No. 5 Brentwood – but because she couldn’t get back out on the court.
After taking a charge in the first half, Maloney tried to brace her fall and injured her wrist; she wouldn’t return to the game. Instead, the senior had to watch from the sidelines as No. 1 Huntington (21-0) played with just a 5-point advantage coming out of halftime in the semifinal showdown.
“We went in the locker room and she was in pain,” Heather Forster, another Huntington senior, said. “We all just looked at each other and said, ‘We’re doing this for Mackenzie.’ We wanted to make sure that we pulled through with the win [to] let her know that we love her.”
After a back-and-forth first half – the Blue Devils trailed 5-0 to start the game – Huntington stormed into the second half to outscore the Indians by 15 points and stamp its ticket to the school’s first county championship since 2008, head coach Mike Kaplan said.
“It just feels so good to [reach the finals],” Maloney, who finished with 2 points, said. “All our hard work has put us [in this position]. We came out slow… but we won it with our confidence.”
Despite constant double-team efforts by Brentwood attempting to slow her down, Forster was one of the driving forces for the Blue Devils in the second half as they “turned on the pressure,” she said. The 6-foot-2 forward finished with 15 points and 22 rebounds in the win.
“We just wanted to make sure that we proved to people that we could do it,” she said.
Just like last season, Huntington was undefeated heading into the 2015 semifinal. Last year, the girls dropped a heart-breaker to Sachem East, 58-55, in that game. This year, they wanted to make sure that didn’t happen.
“That’s what we talked about in the locker room at halftime… We didn’t want to have that feeling again,” Samantha Lynch, a senior who led Huntington in scoring with 17 points, said. “We just picked up the intensity [and] picked up the effort.”
The Blue Devils now move on to face No. 2 Commack (20-1) for a county championship. With a 70-48 victory over No. 3 Copiague, the Cougars also stamped their tickets on Friday.
Coach Kaplan, who actually graduated from Commack, said he knows the team all too well when he looked towards the matchup.
“We’ve seen them play a bunch of times,” he said. “It’s going to be a great battle.”
Forster is looking forward to one battle in particular – the one she’s likely to have with Commack’s 6-foot-1 center, Chelsea Schultz, who’s averaged 10.7 points per game through the playoffs.
“She’s a good player… we’ve played [together] on a few ‘all-star’ teams,” Forster said. “It’s going to be difficult… but hopefully we can get a win.”
Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Ward Melville High School.
Originally published: Long Islander News: The Long Islander
(Thursday, Mar. 5, 2015; A39)