Survive and advance. When it comes to playoff basketball, no words are more apropos.
The eighth seeded Mineola Lady Mustangs got out to a big lead and then held on for dear life in a thrilling 34-33 home win over No. 9 Wantagh in the opening round of the Nassau County Class A playoffs Friday afternoon in front of their .
Senior captain Kalie Medlock scored 8 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to lead Mineola.
Senior guard Krystie Kern's lay up off a terrific feed from Julie Falotico gave Mineola a 34-29 lead, enough to hold off a charging Wantagh team with 2:25 left to play.
The Lady Mustangs, who improved to 15-3, advanced to the quarterfinal round where they will take on top-seeded and defending Long Island champion Levittown Division (17-1) on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Division High School.
“With my team, you never know what you’re going to get from quarter to quarter,” Mineola head coach Denise Zunno said, proud of her girls. “We have our ups and downs. We can be up 10 points, but then things can turn quickly. We won this game with heart and hustle down the stretch. Wantagh is a tenacious team. Both teams were on the floor for loose balls and going hard for rebounds. I’m really proud of the way we hung on.”
In the opening frame the gamed looked like a laugher with the Lady Mustangs jumping out 13-2 with junior Kerri Medlock and Kern leading the way. If things weren’t bad enough for the Lady Warriors, senior guard April Iannetta picked up her second foul midway through the opening quarter.
Neither team could get their offensive started in the second quarter, but Kalie Medlock was a force on the boards, scoring all four of Mineola’s points. After being held without a field goal for nearly nine minutes, junior Brenna Smith got the Lady Warriors off the schneid with a short jumper. Mineola held a 17-8 lead at the break.
Mineola’s forward Heather Gessner did a little bit of everything in the opening moments of the second half. The senior co-captain grabbed a rebound, blocked a pair of shots, and then hit a long three from the corner to put the home team out 20-10.
The Lady Warriors opted for a full court press with 2:10 to go in the third and managed to turn the game around, closing the deficit to six thanks to 6 points from Iannetta and a clutch three by junior Tara Basile.
The final frame personified intense, post-season basketball. Wantagh Eighth-grader Alexandra Parlato (8 points, 9 rebounds) hit back-to-back baskets to cut the lead to one with 1:02 on the clock, but the Lady Mustangs locked down on defense and didn’t give Wantagh a good look in the final minute.
Zunno knows the next hurdle is a tough one.
“Division is a stellar team, so it’s going to be tough,” she said. “We’ll run what we did all year long. They’re a very deep and experienced team. We’ll see what happens. You never know.”1 2 3 4 F Wantagh Lady Warriors 2 6 12 13 33 Mineola Lady Mustangs 13 4 9 8 34