The Kings Park girls basketball team wasn’t short on motivation in Thursday night’s showdown with Sayville. Not only was its undefeated League V record on the line but it was the Lady Kingsmen’s inaugural Coaches vs. Cancer game, with the night’s proceeds going to the American Cancer Society.
The Lady Kingsmen put the game away, using its full-court trap to run off 17 straight points in the first quarter to build a lead that it maintained throughout. As successful as the night was on the court, it was even more successful from a fundraising sense. According to head coach Tom Edmundson, the game raised approximately $1,200. That figure, which didn’t yet include T-shirt sales, surpassed the team’s $1,000 goal.
“It’s a good thing to get involved in community service,” Edmundson said. “Cancer affects everybody, and it’s affected everyone on our team in some way.”
Edmundsen said the Lady Kingsmen (8-2, 4-0 League V) also played with heavy hearts as a Kings Park ninth-grader was diagnosed with lymphoma just before Christmas. “The game took on a whole new meaning,” he said. “She’s friends with a lot of the girls and she’s an athlete. A lot of the girls were very upset, so there was that extra kick for us.”
It looked that way as Kings Park turned turnovers into points and in a hurry. With the game tied at 4, Kawecki bolted down the floor for a breakaway layup with 5:12 left in the quarter. KP forced an errant pass on Sayville’s ensuing possession and Kawecki cashed in again. Another steal followed and Daniele Buoncore made it 10-4 on a putback.
The Lady Kingsmen didn’t let up, scoring the next nine points to go up 19-4 with 44 seconds left in the opening quarter.
“We wanted to limit their offensive possessions, but we rushed our shots and turned the ball over,” said Golden Flashes coach Phil DePompeo, whose squad dropped to 3-6 and 0-4 in league play. “We didn’t stick to our gameplan, but we’re an inexperienced team and you live and learn.”
Kings Park expanded its lead to 20 by halftime and as high as 25 in the third quarter. The wide margin allowed Edmundsen to give his reserves valuable varsity minutes, and they all made their way into the boxscore. Perhaps the night’s biggest roar came when senior Danielle Krupka drilled an 18-footer from the left wing, her first points of the season. All 10 Lady Kingsmen who played found the scoring column.
“Our goal is to get a lead early and then get everybody in the game, and we were able to do that,” Edmundson said. “Everyone on the team scored, so that was really nice.”
Kawecki racked up six steals on her way to a game-high 16 points. She created numerous scoring opportunities on her own, stepping into passing lanes within the full-court press or atop the KP zone and getting an easy two on the other end. In leading the team in scoring through 10 games, Kawecki’s twice eclipsed 20, including a career-high 25 in beating Wyandanch last week.
“She’s leads us in scoring, but she’s even more of a presence on defense than offense,” Edmundson said of the senior. “She’s so long and so athletic. She’s a 5-11 shooting guard who’s quick enough to anticipate passes. She gets her hands on everything.”
Meghan Eckel added 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists, and Bailey added nine. The Lady Kingsmen take a week off before they square off against Harborfields on Thursday, January 13 (5:45 p.m.). They took both regular-season games from their rival last winter, but the Lady Tornadoes stunned Kings Park in the Suffolk County Class A title game.
“That’s a big one,” said Edmundson. “Harborfields is a very talented team and we’re a very talented team, so it should be a great game.”
Team 1 2 3 4 Final Sayville 6 9 10 14 39 Kings Park 19 16 12 13 60