This isn’t typically how the losing side of a playoff game is supposed to look.
You’re supposed to see a pall cast over players, the look of downright dejection, of missed opportunities, that vacant stare of not believing that your season is over, the look of athletes mired in endless self-analysis, wondering how the heck they got to this point, if they took a errant turn and ended up in the wrong locker room by mistake.
You don’t see smiles after losing a playoff game. You don’t see players simply embracing, their grins cracking what should typically be tear-streaked cheeks.
You don’t feel the type of energy that was in the gymnasium of the Garden City High School Thursday night, not of resignation to one’s fate, but just of being.
“My kids were ranked 15, they were ranked two, so the fact that we were in this game is outstanding,” Mineola head coach Denise Zunno said after the 37-25 loss. “I can’t ask for a better ending because back in the day when we used to play them we were blown off the court by 50 points, so I’m happy.”
A 7-point deficit in the first quarter was too much to ultimately overcome for the Lady Mustangs, despite poor shot selections from both sides, the ball finding more metal and glass than at a contractor’s convention than interlaced nylon.
Mineola had rallied back to close the gap to 4 points in the fourth with 4 minutes left after captain Kerri Medlock missed and old fashioned 3-point play and a field goal at the exact end of the third from Julie Falotico.
A corner shot from Lady Trojan Sam Aurricchio with 2 minutes left pushed Garden City’s lead back up to nine, putting it out of reach for Mineola.
“It changed the momentum of the game and they kinda got ahead and we were struggling to get the shots down here,” Zunno said.
Garden City coach Anthony Sparacia’s assessment was much more harsh.
“That was the worst we’ve played in 3 years,” he said.
Still, it was enough to hold off the Lady Mustangs and effectively neutralize Medlock, holding her to just 12 points in the match.
“They were hammering her so the fact that she still got 12 points was awesome,” Zunno said of her senior forward. “My kids broke the press, they got the ball down, we missed a lot of shots, we missed foul shots, we missed some easy backboard shots but we were in the game. I’m still happy and proud of what they did.”
That doesn’t make it easier to walk off the court for the last time, to say goodbye to a team, from either side of the bench, from coach or player in a feeling that belies – and despite – the smiles shown.
“I could go on for two hours,” Zunno said of Medlock, parting. “She’s one of my best captains I’ve ever had, an outstanding leader and a great kid. I’m going to miss her athleticism.”
So will Mineola.1 2 3 4 F Mineola Lady Mustangs 6 6 8 5 25 Garden City Lady Trojans 13 9 4 11 37
Mineola Scoring Statistics Player Position FGs 3PTs FTs Points Kerri Medlock Forward 4 0 4 12 Charlotte Renker Center 2 0 2 6 Samantha Venus Forward 1 1 0 5 Addie McKeever 1 0 0 2
Garden City Scoring Statistics Player FGs 3PTs FTs Points Katie Trimmer 4 0 4 12 Kim Ryan 0 3 0 9 Sam Aurricchio 1 2 0 8 Liz Stutzmann 3 0 0 6 Christina Margels 0 0 2 2