Move over Ray Allen, there’s a new three-point sharp shooter in town, and her name is Sophie Bikofsky.
The senior Lion drained five first-half three-pointers helping guide the No. 3 Newton South girls basketball team to victory over No. 19 Brockton, 67-53, in the first round of the Div. 1 South Sectional tournament.
“We talked about that from day one, about when someone has the hot hand, keep giving them the ball,” said Lions head coach Sam Doner. “Not only did they give her the ball at the right spots, she ran to the right spots. She moved without the ball extremely well.”
Newton South bounced back from its only loss of the year—a 73-70 overtime defeat to Central Catholic to end the regular season—with a triumph that advances the team to the quarterfinals. And they accomplished the feat without their starting center Julia Sloan-Cullen, who broke her ankle slipping on ice the night before the Central game. The Lions will now host No. 11 Taunton Friday night at 7 p.m.
“We did make some adjustments,” Doner said about playing without Sloan-Cullen. “I don’t think the kids are comfortable with those adjustments. I just have to do a better job of making them believe they can do a little more.”
The Lions came charging out of the gate to begin the game as Chloe Rothman and Bikofsky hit back-to-back three-pointers, which gave Newton South the early 6-2 advantage. Moments later, Bikofsky fired another three-pointer from what turned out to be her sweet spot, the left wing, augmenting the lead to 22-11. Bikofsky finished with a game-high 23 points and added nine rebounds.
Not to be outdone, Lion Semira Haghayeghi joined in the festivities, netting a basket beyond the arc at the end of the quarter making the score 30-14.
In the second quarter, Newton South’s three-point shots continued to fall as the Lions would finish the half with 11 threes. But it was a three-point play by Bikofsky with 10 seconds remaining that gave the Lions the 48-30 lead going into the break.
The Lions’ three-point laser show ended in the third quarter. Newton South’s hot hands were put on ice as the team netted only five points during the period. The drought allowed the Boxers to fight back into the game as Nephie Marsh hit consecutive three-pointers, which helped Brockton cut the deficit to 53-43 going into the final stanza.
Boxer Christian McDuffy hit a pair of free throws to begin the fourth quarter. That eroded the Lions’ lead to nine points, but Brockton would not get any closer as Newton South went on for the 67-53 victory.
“It’s not the team again. It’s just bad coaching,” Doner commented about the second-half woes. “We didn’t execute. We didn’t run. I think that we got overconfident. They thought this was going to be a cakewalk. I think you have to give more credit to the other team. What we did wrong—I think it was more what they did right.”