Trailing by three points with four seconds to play in the game, Huntington had the ball, but was unable to get off a final shot as Eastport-South Manor held on for a 51-48 victory, knocking the Blue Devils out of the Suffolk Class AA playoffs.
Huntington trailed most of the game before taking a slim lead late in the fourth quarter, but ESM staged a rally to gain the upper hand before a crowd of about 300 in Louis D. Giani Gymnasium.
A long three pointer by Alexandra Heuwetter with 2:15 remaining in the third period tied the score at 31-31. Emma Petrizzi hit another Huntington three-pointer two minutes later to give the Blue Devils a 37-35 lead. But ESM kept responding with buckets of its own.
The Sharks (13-8) led 11-7 after one quarter and 20-16 at halftime. Huntington (14-7) rallied in the third quarter, outscoring ESM 21-15 to gain a two-point advantage, but the Blue Devils couldn’t close it out.
With the clock rapidly ticking down and the score tied at 47-47, ESM stole the ball and scored on a lay-up to take a two point lead. Huntington was forced to repeatedly commit fouls to try and force the Sharks to the line and get the ball back.
ESM converted a pair of shots from the free throw line to move ahead 51-47 in the final minute. The Blue Devils narrowed their deficit to three points by hitting a free throw in the closing seconds and got the ball back with a chance to tie the game, but couldn’t get off a final shot.
Heuwetter led Huntington with 14 points, including two three-pointers and four free throws. Petrizzi had 12 points on four three-point baskets. Anna Gulizio scored 11 points and Tara Wilson added six points. Nicole Leslie (three points) and Katie Seccafico (two points) combined for five points.
Blue Devil players took the loss very hard. “It’s a tough way to end the season,” head coach Michael Kaplan said. “We had plenty of chances. I’m very proud of the team and appreciate all the effort every single player gave throughout the year. It’s never a good feeling to lose like this, but everyone should hold their head high. We won 14 games and we had a lot of fun doing it.”
Blue Devil Notes: The game marked the final time Petrizzi, Gulizio, Wilson, Torre Palmer and Shannon Maloney will wear a Huntington basketball uniform as the seniors are set to graduate in June and head off to college . . . The game was attended by Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky, Huntington High School Principal Brenden Cusack and District Director of Athletics Georgia D. McCarthy . . .