NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – Amanda Smith achieved a pair of firsts Saturday for the Saunders High girls basketball team.
The senior and her teammates, along with Eastchester High, became the first girls teams to play in the Hoops For A Cure basketball showcase at New Roc City.
Smith, who led Saunders to a 41-34 victory, was named the first female Most Outstanding Player.
The Hoops For a Cure showcase is in its second year. All proceeds go to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Smith finished with 16 points, including 12 in the second half. Kaira Hassell added six points, including two key baskets in the fourth quarter.
“When we heard about this we told coach we wanted to play in it,” Smith said. “It was a great feeling being a part of this. It is for a great charity. I hope they have more girls’ teams in it next year.”
Smith helped initiate a surge in the second quarter that carried the Blue Devils from a 14-3 deficit to an 18-14 lead at the half. An Amanda Kiriakos 3-pointer put Saunders ahead to stay at 16-14.
“We called a timeout and knew we had to do a better job on defense,” Smith said. “We started communicating better and we also started taking care of the ball better.”
Saunders’ coach J.R. Volpe also made sure he spoke to Smith about relaxing.
“Amanda had some foul trouble early on,” he said. “I let her know that she had to relax and let the game come to her. Once Amanda did this, she started knocking down shots.”
In the third quarter, Saunders players and fans held their collective breath. Smith stole the ball, went up for a shot and fell hard to floor after being fouled. She popped right up, though, shaking her right arm, and promptly sank one of two free throws.
Olivia Dineen kept Eastchester close in the fourth quarter, scoring nine of her team-leading 10 points.