Sarang West remembered the feeling last year when Clinton came into Bronx Science’s gym and exited with a one-point win. It didn’t sit well with West then, so this time around, she made sure she reminded her Wolverines’ teammates of that stinging loss to their neighborhood rivals when the two schools got together again last week.
“I think we really prepared for this game as much as we could,” West said. “We’re in a little bit of a rivalry because we’re so close. So in practice we hammered it into our minds that they beat us at home last year, and we were going to make sure they didn’t do it again.”
West did her part scoring 11 of her game-high 23 points in the first half when the Wolverines built a 23-point halftime lead before cruising to a dominant 62-35 victory over Clinton. It was the second convincing win of the week for Bronx Science after it opened the season with a 72-20 laugher over Morris.
The blowout was a rare one for the Wolverines against a Clinton team that has a history of playing Science in tightly contested games. Last season, the Wolverines swept the season series — but each game was decided by a single point.
“I thought it would be closer,” Science head coach Mike Mei said. “Honestly, in all my years here, this is the first time it’s been so lopsided in a game against Clinton. For whatever reason we have not played them especially well, whether they’ve come here or we’ve gone over there. So this was kind of a surprise.”
Bronx Science took all the suspense out of the game early. West’s second three-pointer of the contest gave the Wolverines an 18-6 lead as the first quarter ended. They then scored the first 11 points of the second quarter — a spurt that was capped by yet another West three-ball — and Science had a 29-6 lead.
Any hope Clinton had of climbing back into the game in the second half was quickly dashed as Science scored 11 of the first 13 points in the third quarter to up their cushion to 46-14, and the Wolverines coasted from there. Carolina Lopez added 10 rebounds and nine assists, while Lucy Del Deo logged 10 points and 12 rebounds for Science.
While Science’s offense is averaging 67 points through two games so far, its defense has been even more impressive, allowing an average of 27.5 points an outing. In the victory over Clinton, the Wolverines limited the Lady Governors to just five field goals through the first three quarters.
So which unit has been more impressive?
“We practiced defense for the first five days of practice this year,” Lopez said. “Only defense. So everyone is really sound on that.”
West, however, had a different take on things.
“I’d say our offense because we have a really unselfish team who make a lot of really good passes,” she said. “I think our reads are getting a lot better and our passes are getting through, and we’re getting easier shots.”
Mei, a defensive coach at heart, thinks his team is just scratching the surface of what it can do defensively.
“I’ve always been a defensive guy and I believe defense will help you win championships,” Mei said. “But as good as we’ve been, I actually feel we can be even better. There were a lot of breakdowns today that I wasn’t happy about, and some of the looks that we gave up today, those could have easily been points. They weren’t going in for (Clinton), but you never know with a different opponent on a different day.”
Last season saw the Wolverines go 16-2 in the regular season, but come up a game short of winning the Bronx A South Division as Mott Haven claimed the title. But with the return of West, Lopez and Del Deo — along with rising sophomores Gina Celentano and Anna Vikatos and freshmen Lillian Flynn and Kiele Morgan — a deeper Wolverines team will look at another shot at the division title this season.
“We’re definitely deeper than we were last year,” Mei said. “As I was telling them in the post-game huddle, we’re not going to be successful in the later part of the season if we’re only dependent on five or six girls. Depth really means something for a team that aspires to go somewhere.”
And that somewhere includes taking down Mott Haven.
“I think this year is definitely our year,” West said. “I think Mott Haven is our next really big target this season.”