When Marley Giddins graduated and took her 16 points per game with her, the pressure to lead the Irvington girls basketball squad appeared to fall on Division I commits Brittni Lai and Lexi Martins.
While Lai and Martins are superb talents, the three-time defending Class B state champion showed that support can come from each spot on its roster.
Behind 21 points from Martins and 17 from Alyssa DiCampli, Irvington topped Ardsley 72-56 in the final of the William Warnock Tournament.
“Alyssa and Ryan McMahon played very well for us today and I thought they did big things for us,” Irvington coach Gina Maher said. “We can’t rely on Lexi and Brittni always and Alyssa stepped up today.”
Irvington maintained a 19-point advantage in the second quarter that shrunk to seven points at the end of the third, when Irvington led 50-43.
“It should have never gotten to that point in this game,” Martins said. “As bad as it was, it’s fun to play in games where it’s close. Unfortunately for us, we shouldn’t have let the game get that close. But we did, so we had to refocus our energy.”
Senior Toni Pilla poured in 16 points and sophomore Casey Foley added 13 to fuel the Panthers’ comeback effort.
“We were playing a three-two (zone) and Toni and Casey started hitting 3s and the whole team just got on fire,” Lai said. “We had to switch up our defense a little bit and we went into man (coverage).”
Isabella DePasquale added 14 points for the Panthers, who ran out of fuel and were outscored 22-13 in the fourth quarter.
“It shows us that it can be a five-point ballgame and we can still end up winning by 19 or 20 points,” Maher said. “I don’t want (my players) to fall into a habit and think that’s always going to happen. Someday that can catch you and catch you bad.”
Ardsley’s frontcourt starters, Nicolina Chenard and DePasquale, are underclassmen who were tasked with covering the Lehigh-bound Martins in the post.
“It has to be a learning experience,” Ardsley coach Michael Pollio said. “I know that Nicolina (Chenard), Cassidy (Wootten), Isabella and Marielle (Bremer) are going to get better as the season goes on. We’re going to break down the film from this game and improve on some personal things.”
Ardsley, which posted 17 wins in Class A last season, is now competing in Class B.
“In the beginning our confidence was low but because of this we are excited for the upcoming games,” Pilla said.