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North Shore's zone defense handcuffs Wheatley

Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2005 by Keith Freund



NORTH SHORE 42, WHEATLEY 15

North Shore's zone defense handcuffs Wheatley

BY TOM ALLEGRA
STAFF WRITER

December 11, 2005

The Wheatley girls basketball kept passing the ball around the perimeter, searching for a seam in the defense but usually settling for an outside shot.

That is, if they could even get off a shot.

North Shore's smothering 1-3-1 zone defense induced 18 first-half turnovers, and freshman forward Chloe Johnson scored 15 points as the Vikings rolled to a 42-15 win over the host Wildcats yesterday in the first round of the Wheatley Holiday Tournament. North Shore faces Island Trees in the final at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow.

"The key [to the 1-3-1] is to watch the ballhandler's eyes and react when the ball is in the air because you're going for steals," said North Shore senior forward Sara Longobucco, who totaled eight points and five steals off the bench. "Everyone's watching the ball, and if there's a steal, everyone breaks down the court."

After a first half in which the Vikings failed to convert a handful of third- and fourth-shot opportunities, Johnson got them going with a 12-foot jumper 1:05 into the third quarter. Longobucco followed by converting a fast-break feed from Kristen Reynolds, then made a steal and fed Reynolds for another layup as the Vikings took a 27-8 lead at the midway point of the period.

Wheatley coach Brian McConaghy said his team was hurt by the absence of point guard Morgan Laverty, who broke a finger in a recent scrimmage. That forced sophomore guard Erica Melchione to play the point, where she found little room to penetrate and even less to shoot against Longobucco and Johnson.

Melchione, who averaged 11 points last season, was held without a field goal.

"I think [the 1-3-1] really shut them down," said Johnson, who showed a soft touch on short- to mid-range jumpers, outscoring the Wildcats 15-11 the final three quarters. "I don't think they had any plays against it."

North Shore's opponents better prepare for the 1-3-1, because it's the only defense the Vikings use in a half-court set. It is a system North Shore coach Bob Vachris learned by watching then-Villanova men's basketball coach Jack Kraft as a student there in the early 1960s.

Island Trees 42, Clarke 27: Meghan Biondolillo had 10 points and six rebounds, and Kate Tolen seven points and eight rebounds as Island Trees won the other semifinal. Mara Smith had 13 points for Clarke.

NORTH SHORE 42, WHEATLEY 15
Copyright 2005 Newsday Inc.

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