For a third consecutive season, Oceanside found a way to knock off one of Nassau County’s top girls’ basketball programs.
The Lady Sailors outlasted Massapequa, 52-50, on the road Jan. 12 for a much-needed Conference AA-I victory following four losses. Junior Jamie Behar continued her torrid scoring pace with a game-high 25 points, while senior Victoria Ward and junior Gina Contorno chipped in seven points apiece. Kate Fiola had 15 points for the Lady Chiefs, who held a 28-21 halftime advantage.
“It was a back and forth game and we just persevered,” Oceanside head coach Jared Stoler said. “The girls really came together in the second half and got an incredible win. It was great to get the monkey off our backs.
“They were elated,” he added. “It showed they can compete again with the teams in this conference. We needed the confidence boost.”
The Lady Sailors (6-7 overall), who rolled past struggling Hempstead three days later to improve to 2-4 in conference games, need to flip a few results the second time around the schedule to qualify for the playoffs. Last winter, they went 4-2 over the second half to reach the postseason.
“We need to go 4-2 in our next six and it’s not impossible,” Stoler explained. “We’ve had some tough ones. Uniondale beat us at the buzzer, we left 18 points on the board against Farmingdale with missed layups, and we had a bad first quarter at Freeport that we couldn’t recover from.
“I chalk a lot of it up to inexperience,” he added. “We’ve had some growing pains and working through adversity, but I think we’re starting to see the confidence grow.”
Behar, the coach said, is “captaining the ship.” She scored 20 points in a non-league loss to Xaverian on MLK Day, a shade below her average of 23.3 per game. Her season-high of 31 came in a non-league win over Valley Stream Central last month. “She’s basically playing all five positions on the court and having a great night every night,” Stoler said.
Contorno is averaging 12.6 points per game and scored a season-high 23 in a heartbreaking 58-57 defeat at Uniondale on Jan. 5. The Lady Knights outscored Oceanside by 10 in the fourth quarter and won it on a desperation three-pointer by Kapri Bradshaw with the clock winding down.
“It was not an easy shot to make,” Stoler said of Bradshaw’s dramatic winner. “It’s as difficult a loss as I can remember. We led the whole game. As a coach, you always want to say something when the bus arrives back at the school after a road game. But we were all just in complete shock.”
Stoler is looking for the recent return of sophomore forward/center Jackie Sailer from an ankle injury to bolster Oceanside’s chances down the stretch. Junior Angela Knott and sophomores Gabby Modzelewski, Jenna Morgan and Courtney Murphy have all made considerable progress along the way.
“If we’re fighting for a playoff spot come senior night [Feb. 5 versus Massapequa] that would be incredible,” Stoler said.