By Rob Potter
LAKE HUNTINGTON February 1, 2008 The Sullivan West Lady Bulldogs knocked the visiting S.S. Seward Lady Spartans from the ranks of unbeaten teams on Monday night in a non-league basketball game at SW High School.
After holding a 27-25 advantage at halftime, SW outscored Seward 13-5 in the third quarter to take a 40-30 lead. The Lady Bulldogs then held off a Seward comeback attempt in the fourth period to record a 54-48 victory.
In the first four minutes of the third quarter, SW (11-2) went on a 7-1 scoring run to extend its advantage to eight points (34-26).
At the 6:42 mark, SW’s Rachel Houghtaling had possession of the ball inside the lane and banked a successful shot off the backboard. In the next two minutes of play, teammate Sarah Lander swished a 3-pointer from the top of the key and drove down the lane for a basket.
The Lady Bulldogs extended their lead to 42-30 early in the fourth quarter.
But Seward (13-1) kept chipping away at the SW advantage. The Lady Spartans pulled to within four points (52-48) when Sarah Steele hit a 3-pointer with 13 seconds remaining.
SW’s six-point victory was sealed when Houghtaling converted both shots of a 1-and-1 opportunity at the free-throw line with 9.8 seconds on the clock.
Houghtaling finished the game with a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds. She also dished out five assists.
Sarah Lander added 11 points for SW, while teammates Lindsey Murphy and Jenn Pitz netted six points apiece.
“Rachel [Houghtaling] really stepped it up tonight and Vicky [Arguetta] gave a us some good minutes off the bench,” SW Coach Ron Bernhardt said. “We executed all night long. All six players who got into the game played well.”
The veteran coach noted that the Lady Bulldogs’ made 10-of-12 free throws in the fourth quarter. That outstanding shooting performance at the line and the team’s strong play in the third quarter were keys to victory.
“Seward is a very good team, but we had a great third quarter and then we pulled away,” Bernhardt said. “I have a good feeling now, these are fun games.”
Seward’s Kathleen Folkl had a game-high 24 points, 17 of which she scored in the first half. Those 24 points gave the senior forward a total of 995 for her outstanding career.
Steele made four 3-pointers during the contest to finish with 12 points, while Brooke Burnside added six points for the Lady Spartans.
“The third quarter hurt us,” Seward Coach Joe DiMattina said. “But I think we won the fourth quarter. Sarah Steele got hot and hit some treys and we outscored them by four points.”
DiMattina noted that his team could have used more balance on offense.
“Kathleen [Folkl] drove to the basket and scored several times in the first half and the other four players kind of got caught up watching her and didn’t go to the basket themselves,” he said.
However, DiMattina found some positives in the defeat.
“I’m a little disappointed with the loss, but I’m happy with the competition,” he said. “Win or lose, playing against a good team like this helps my team.
“We get another chance to play against them soon,” DiMattina added.
He was referring to Saturday, February 9, when the Lady Spartans and Lady Bulldogs will meet in the championship game of the Billy Moran Tip-Off Tournament. The game was originally scheduled to be held last month at SW High School in Lake Huntington, but had to be postponed due to inclement weather.
The title contest is slated to tip-off at 6:15 p.m. on Feb. 9.