Royals Defeat Panthers, Advance to County Championship

Massimo Cipriano Sports Feb 21, 2020

With a big playoff game in sight, Port Jefferson Girls Basketball Head Coach Jesse Rosen came into every social studies classroom at Earl L. Vandermeulen High School with a special request. To optimize the team’s home court advantage, he asked the students to “white out” the gym, and bring their maximum energy in order to make the game an uphill climb for Babylon.

He definitely got what he asked for:

All photos taken by Connor Lioio.
The crowd was electric the whole game, especially the rowdy student section.

By tip-off, the bleachers were covered with white shirts, and the crowd was prepared to bring the vivacity that could bring the Royals to their second consecutive county championship.

They still had to get past Babylon, which wasn’t going to be an easy task. Port Jefferson split their pair of games against the Panthers during the regular season. Their biggest focus would be Emma Ward, who is capable of shooting from deep and attacking the basket.

The Royals stayed locked in on defense for all four quarters.

The two teams were within reach of each other the entire first half, trading baskets and important plays that had the crowd locked in. For Junior Guard Brooke Zamek (17 points), it seemed like every shot was falling, and the Royals entered the half up by 4. That being said, they were not comfortable with such a narrow lead.

Senior Samantha Ayotte took advantage of her free throws, with 8 of her 14 points coming from the stripe.

However, the Royals came out with intensity and hustle, dominating the glass on both ends of the court. Sophomore Abigail Rolfe led the way with an 18 point and 10 rebound stat line, making a series of late baskets that would extend the Royal’s lead. Coming down the stretch, Ward couldn’t make shots mount a successful comeback, and the Royals ran away with a 55–37 victory.

Abigail Rolfe was a major presence in the paint for the Royals, with an impressive 18–10 double double.
Sharpshooting Junior Evelyn Walker (6 points, 2 3-pointers made) launches a shot from 3-point range.
Sophomore Point Guard Annie Maier played with poise and hustle, orchestrating play for the Royals.

With the huge victory behind them, the Royals turn their focus to the Suffolk County Championship on February 21. They will face Mattituck in a rematch of last year’s Championship, hoping to avenge the loss they took at the hands of the Tuckers last year.

Port Jefferson will face Mattituck in the Suffolk County Championship at Centereach High School on Friday, February 21 at 6:00 PM

Massimo Cipriano

Massimo, a senior, is the editor of the sports column. An aspiring sports journalist, he attended a USC sports journalism summer program. He also runs a sports blog, The Step Back.

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