Can these Blue Devils make history? The Huntington High School girls’ basketball team has never won four consecutive league titles. That could change this year.
The Blue Devils opened their league schedule on Tuesday night by toppling host Centereach, 49-31. The victory gives the Blue Devils a 3-2 mark after the team split four non-league tune-up games.
Centereach took an early 8-6 lead, but Huntington came storming back as the Blue Devils went on an 18-4 second quarter run to grab a 24-12 halftime advantage. Head coach Michael Kaplan urged his team not to take its proverbial foot off the gas pedal and let the Cougars get back into the game. The veteran sideline mentor didn’t have to worry.
Huntington came out on fire for the second half, outscoring Centereach 15-7 to extend the Blue Devils’ lead to 39-19. The team coasted home from there.
Senior co-captain Emma Petrizzi led Huntington with 17 points and five rebounds. Playing in her first game of the season, junior Alexandra Heuwetter tallied 11 points and six rebounds. Junior Katie Seccafico added 10 points and 13 rebounds and senior co-captain Anna Gulizio chipped in with four points and tough defense.
“So many girls were working hard today and I feel that there was a lot of communication on the court,” Petrizzi said. “We’ve struggled in past games to come out strong in the second half, but today we had no problem. When we were winning we relaxed and didn’t feel pressured to shoot or force the ball on offense. I feel pretty good about the win. It was our first league game so I'm glad we’re off to a good start.”
Eighth grader Jordan Forte came off the bench and scored four points along with four rebounds and three steals. Freshman Megan Byrnes added three points and “played well,” assistant coach Marissa Bergmann said.
Gulizio credited the team’s strong opening night performance to “major boxing out and shutting down on defense.” The teenager fills a key role directing Huntington’s offense and keeping the team playing as one unit.
The Blue Devils have struggled to score at times, but Gulizio isn’t worried. “Offense will come, but defense is what is really important and when we’re playing a good game defensively everything else clicks,” she said. “It’s really important to play together and I think we have great team chemistry this year so things are looking good.”
Heuwetter captured All-League and All-Conference honors last winter and her absence from the court while she recovered from an injury was clearly felt by Huntington during its four early season non-league games. The teenager averaged 13 points per game as a sophomore and led the team from the free throw line with 47 shots made.
The junior played hard on Tuesday and picked up where she left off last winter, hitting her outside shot with a soft touch and moving aggressively under the basket, both offensively and defensively.
The Blue Devils are still without senior Tara Wilson while she recovers from an injury. “We’re looking forward to being back at full strength soon,” Kaplan said.
Huntington hosts Suffolk League III foe North Babylon today (Thursday) at 4 p.m. in Louis D. Giani Gymnasium.