Girls basketball: Tappan Zee refuses to let Arlington find its comfort zone

·3 min read

LAGRANGVILLE – Doubt was beginning to creep in early on.

Tappan Zee was unsettled, rushing up shots that met unforgiving rims. Arlington was in stride from the start, drawing fouls and forcing turnovers.

It seemed the Dutchmen had finally met their match.

There wasn’t much conversation in the opening quarter Wednesday, but Tappan Zee got reacquainted with each other before halftime and got back to playing the kind of defense that rattles opposing teams. It wasn’t long before the momentum switched.

Confidence was no longer an issue when Ariana Kupi and Brooke Comito began piling up points in the paint during a memorable third quarter run.

Tappan Zee's Arianna Kupi (11) goes up for a shot in front of Arlington's Nneoma Ezeilo (30) during girls basketball action at Arlington High School in Freedom Plains Jan. 26, 2022. Tappan Zee won the game 57-47.
Tappan Zee's Arianna Kupi (11) goes up for a shot in front of Arlington's Nneoma Ezeilo (30) during girls basketball action at Arlington High School in Freedom Plains Jan. 26, 2022. Tappan Zee won the game 57-47.

The Dutchmen went on to an emphatic 57-47 victory to remain undefeated.

Rankings: A memorable week has Ketcham standing in the spotlight

Scoreboard: Schedule and recaps for Jan. 26

Midseason report: What to watch for in the second half

“I think we learned that we need to always communicate,” Kupi said. “We lost that for a few minutes in this one, but once we got it together, we pulled through. Everything starts with the defense. When things aren’t going well on that end, the offense isn’t going well either. Once we picked it up again, we got those stops and steals that lead to fast breaks.

“That’s what makes us go.”

The Admirals simply were not able to run a set without major interference during the second and third quarter.

“When you look to where you’re comfortable going, they’re already there and you have to know how to be creative with the ball,” Arlington forward Maya Watts said. “They challenge you to do that, which is what makes them more difficult to play against than most teams. I do think we got better with that as the game went on, but we still have a lot to work on.”

Arlington's Nneoma Ezeilo (30) tries to go up for a shot in front of Tappan Zee's Brooke Comito (22) during girls basketball action at Arlington High School in Freedom Plains Jan. 26, 2022. Tappan Zee won the game 57-47.
Arlington's Nneoma Ezeilo (30) tries to go up for a shot in front of Tappan Zee's Brooke Comito (22) during girls basketball action at Arlington High School in Freedom Plains Jan. 26, 2022. Tappan Zee won the game 57-47.

Turning point

A halftime reset helped Tappan Zee, which closed out a whirlwind third quarter on a 28-11 run. Comito, a senior role player, was suddenly a force inside compliments. She and Kupi were a high-low tsunami, finding each other each time Arlington was slow to help.

Dana Phelan, Kristen Phelan and Kupi each came up with a takeaway in the final minute that led to a layup at the other end to send the Dutchmen into the fourth quarter with a 49-32 lead.

“Ariana and I work really well together,” Comito said. “She knows my strong suits and I know hers. She is really unselfish, and I know the ball is coming to me when I’m left open. … I think at first, we were a little shaken. Once we talked about it, we relaxed and started to play our game.”

Tappan Zee's Brooke Comito (22) goes up for a shot in front of Arlington's Maya Watts (15) during girls basketball action at Arlington High School in Freedom Plains Jan. 26, 2022. Tappan Zee won the game 57-47.
Tappan Zee's Brooke Comito (22) goes up for a shot in front of Arlington's Maya Watts (15) during girls basketball action at Arlington High School in Freedom Plains Jan. 26, 2022. Tappan Zee won the game 57-47.

Player of the game

Nowhere on the scouting report did the Admirals list the possibility of Comito going for 16 points. She also had five rebounds.

By the numbers

Tappan Zee (14-0): Kupi collected 18 points, 16 rebounds and six assists. … Dana Phelan didn’t get one bounce from the rims, but wound up with 10 points and five steals. … Kristen Phelan added seven points and five rebounds. … Kelli Linehan and Claire Berkowitz had three points apiece.

Arlington (8-7): Bella Kostyal had 15 points. … Watts finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds. … Sydney Dyer had eight points and five assists. … Nneoma Ezeilo delivered five points and 10 rebounds.

Quotable

“I think we can even play better,” Kupi said. “I think we’re going to keep moving forward.”

“I think we just have to know we’re growing through some of these bad stretches,” Watts said. “We have to keep that in mind because it’s easy to get down on yourself, but I think we’re communicating now better than we have all season. We need to click. We’re having bad stretches in games, so we’re trying to stay positive, knowing we’re going to get over that. We need to go into games, thinking we can win, thinking we can be the team that we’ve always been.”

Mike Dougherty covers boys soccer, boys lacrosse, girls basketball and golf for The Journal News/lohud.com. He can be reached at mdougher@lohud.com, or on Twitter @hoopsmbd, @lohudlacrosse, @lohudhoopsmbd and @lohudgolf.

This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: lohud girls basketball Tappan Zee tops Arlington for 14th straight win