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Deep Smithtown West girls basketball outclasses Half Hollow Hills East

Good luck developing a game plan against the Smithtown West girls basketball team. A different day, a different top scorer. And it’s made the Bulls a team poised to be a tough out in the playoffs.

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Smithtown West defeated host Half Hollow Hills East, 62-53, in a matchup of two girls basketball teams near the top of Suffolk League III Tuesday evening. Nikki Mennella finished tied for the team lead in scoring with 13 points and added five assists as Smithtown West had four players post at least 11 points.

“We have so many options and so many playmakers,” Mennella said. “We just play as a team.”

“It’s awesome because we don’t have anybody that doesn’t want the basketball in their hands and that just makes my life easier,” coach Katie Combs said. “It’s them, not me. It’s always them stepping up and making the plays.”

Karsyn Kondracki finished with 13 points and four assists, Laura Luikart had 12 points and 15 rebounds and Ryann Reynolds had 11 points for Smithtown West (10-3).

“I think that’s a huge threat for us,” Luikart said. “We have players that can come off the bench and pick each other up.”

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The Bulls lost to Hills East 69-65 earlier in the season. Hills East falls to 12-2 in the league.

“We definitely knew we had it in us,” Mennella said. “We just played all together. Our energy was up, probably the best energy we had all season.”

Smithtown West took a 17-14 advantage after the first quarter and expanded its lead to 28-19 after a three-pointer by Madison Misser capped off a 9-0 run with 3:29 remaining in the second quarter. The Bulls led 35-21 at halftime.

Hills East cut Smithtown West’s lead to 48-43 after the third quarter, highlighted by Alyssa Studdert scoring 16 of her 22 points in the period and Rose Azmoudeh adding six of her 20 points in the third.

But Smithtown West had five players score in the fourth quarter, including Kondracki hitting all four of her foul shots and Misser making two foul shots in the game’s final 30 seconds. The Bulls emphasize shooting free throws while tired during practices, and it proved valuable Tuesday.

“It’s what we do after every difficult drill,” Combs said. “Everything that’s a push, we shoot foul shots. But that’s them. That’s them being gamers. I have 14 gamers on my team, so it’s great.”

And although Hills East has been a top program in recent years, the Bulls are poised to prove they belong in that conversation as well.

“We are one of the top teams,” Combs said. “We’re going to make some noise [in the playoffs]. I know that’s going to happen.”

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