Comfort comes up big as Spartans beat Stars

Jan. 31, 2015 Girls Basketball
Steinert's Morgan "The Menace" Comfort tries to slow down Nottingham's Liana Lugo during the first half of today's game at
Steinert (Photo by Amanda Ruch/[email protected]).
With help from the ‘enemy’, Comfort comes up big as Spartans beat Stars
By Rich Fisher
Jan. 31: Ohhh, the irony of it all.
In a game where tons of girls contributed to Steinert’s 50-47 girls’ basketball win over Nottingham
today, the two decisive baskets came on jumpers from Morgan “The Menace” Comfort.
The sophomore guard has been working on her shooting with none other than Pete Larkin, who
happens to be the father of – we repeat, ohhh the irony – Northstars assistant coach Caitlin Larkin.
Oh well, such is life.
“Every once in a while I work with him, whenever we can,” said Comfort, who has known Larkin all her
life since he and her father, John, are buddies. “We both have very busy schedules. Whenever we can
get together, my dad and he will set something up. He’ll look at me and correct my mistakes, as well
as coach (Kristin Jacobs).”
Whatever they told Comfort, it worked in
the fourth quarter.
The score was tied at 42-42 after three
quarters that saw each team go on runs
before settling into a dogfight.
Nottingham took a 45-42 edge on Liana
Lugo’s foul shot and a bucket by Shanera
Hampton, who had another big game with
19 points and nine rebounds. Gaby
Bennett, who shook off a box-and-one to
score 17 points, tied it with a 3-pointer.
Haylee Kieffer scored on a short jumper
to give Nottingham a 47-45 lead before
Comfort calmly buried a 3-pointer to put
Steinert ahead. The Northstars then lost
the ball, and Comfort came down to hit
another jumper with no hesitation.
“When you’re open you have to shoot,”
she said. “What else are you gonna do? I
was open, I had to take the shot.”
Well, OK then, can’t argue with that.
Comfort said after hitting her first shot, the
second one was a little easier to take.
“Probably,” she said. “I knew what to do
with my form, it got stuck in my head and I
just took it again.”
It was Comfort’s only five points of the
game – and unbelievably, the last points
of the game with 3:55 remaining -- but
she followed that up by dribbling through
the Northstars press.
Steinert's Gaby Bennett launches one of her three 3-pointers over Kelsey “It’s been a trend for her,” Jacobs said.
Ignace in the fourth quarter today. Bennett scored 17 despite a box-and“She goes out there and plays hard every
one defense one her (Photo by Amanda
Ruch/[email protected]).
minute she’s out there. She skies for
rebounds, she’s tenacious as a defender and she’s just learning how to settle down and do the right
“She’s amazing,” Bennett said. “She really stepped up today.”
With both teams stuck in a scoring drought after Comfort’s mini-explosion, Nottingham had a chance
to tie it with 11 seconds left. But a play that was designed to be a 3-point shot never developed as
Nottingham took a 2-pointer as time ran out.
“It should never come down to the last play,” Nottingham coach Lauren “The Daredevil” Kelly said.
“But you miss foul shots, you miss lay-ups and you miss other shots, it comes down to the last play.
When the game is on the line you
have to execute the play and we
Kelly was hoping to get Hampton
open for a shot, but she never got
the ball.
“We were trying to get up on her so
they couldn’t shoot any threes,”
Bennett said.
Nottingham was trying to get up on
Bennett as well with their box-andone. To her credit, she picked her
spots, did not force the issue and
shot a slick 7-for-11.
“She got her looks,” Kelly said. “I
don’t think she got many of them, but
when she got them she capitalized
on them. That’s the sign of a good
Bennett said it was the first box-andone she has seen since Robbinsville
played one on Jan. 6. With the way
she has been scoring, she may start
seeing more.
“She’s still gonna get them,” Jacobs
said. “But when her and Mariah
(“Carey” Greco) are in a good flow
together in their offense sometimes
they can be unstoppable. We just
have to make the right adjustments
and making sure we’re doing the
Tatiana Dorner gets off a 3-pointer over Liana Lugo while crouching
Nottingham coach Lauren "The Daredevil" Kelly watches intently (Photo by
right things.”
Amanda Ruch/[email protected]).
Nottingham was doing all the right
things early in the second quarter when it scored eight straight for a 20-10 lead. Steinert responded
with 20 straight, as Bennett scored eight and Tatiana Dorner had seven in the binge.
The Northstars kept plugging away and got it even after three quarters. But Steinert managed to pull it
out during the low-scoring fourth quarter.
Greco finished with eight points and six rebounds, while Briana Dorner and Madison Balke each had
four points and seven rebounds. Nottingham was led by Hampton, Shaunice Palms (14 points, 10
rebounds) and Kieffer (8 points, 14 rebounds)
“Nottingham is not a bad team, they are getting it together,” Jacobs said. “They have players that work
hard, work well together and can score the basketball. I just thought defensively our halfcourt defense
didn’t live up to snuff at some points of the game.”
But it came through in the end when Nottingham was trying to tie it. But Kelly wasn’t going to dwell on
those final seconds.
“When you have a three-point loss, you can look back at every single possession,” the Daredevil said.
“You can look at this turnover or that missed shot. You can’t just look at the last play.
“This was a Hamilton Township rivalry game. There will always be a lot of emotion and intensity. We
had some bright spots. We just have to make our bright spots a little brighter.”
One of those bright spots is that Kelly has a coach on her staff whose dad is a pretty good shooting
Oh. . .wait a minute.
Follow Rich Fisher on twitter @fish4scores