TERRIERS 55, WILDCATS 25
The list of teams playing in the three-day St. Anthony’s Winter Classic featured some of the top programs in the region. Teams like St. John the Baptist, St. Mary’s and St. Dominic’s, teams that resemble college teams at quick glance.
In the 14 games scheduled in the gym at St. Anthony’s High School in Huntington Station, only one featured a Section XI team. That would be Shoreham-Wading River.
Shoreham coach Adam Lievre scheduled the Wildcats into the tournament in part to help senior Courtney Clasen gain some exposure from college coaches who might not otherwise see the Wildcats’ returning all-county forward. But when the Wildcats took the court Friday night against St. Francis Prep, Clasen wasn’t with them.
One night earlier, in the Wildcats’ season opener at Hampton Bays, Clasen suffered an ankle injury that will keep her sidelined for at least a month, Lievre said.
Clasen injured her right ankle coming down for a rebound Thursday night. It was the same ankle she injured in the fall that kept her out for much of the soccer season.
It was a tough blow for the Shoreham senior who has her sights set on playing college basketball next year. A multi-sport athlete, Clasen recently decided to pursue basketball over soccer, which gave her a late start in the recruiting process.
“Hopefully she can bounce back quickly,” Lievre said.
Without Clasen, the Wildcats were overmatched by St. Francis Prep, losing 55-25 to fall to 0-2 on the season. The Wildcats kept it close for a quarter — they trailed 12-10 — but St. Francis pulled away in the second thanks to 10 Shoreham turnovers. The Wildcats went 0-9 from the field in the quarter as St. Francis opened up a 14-point halftime lead, 26-12.
“A lot of nerves,” Lievre said of the first two games. “There’s a lot of ‘I think I can do better’ and ‘I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself,’ so we got to expect that in the beginning of the year. The more that they play that that’ll get away.”
No one player can replace what Clasen brings to the floor. So it’ll take a team effort for the Wildcats over the next few weeks.
“Without Courtney being out, I challenged all of them before the game that we need substitutions for her points, rebounds and everything else she brings to the game,” Lievre said.
On Friday, Lievre said it was sophomore guard Sam Higgins who stepped up. Higgins scored five points, tied with senior Alex Hutchins for the team high, and her hustle throughout the game was evident.
“I asked and Sam delivered,” Lievre said, noting that every game, it could be a different player who has to step up.
The Wildcats had seven different players score, including four each from sophomore Maria Smith and senior Caitlin Mirabell.
The Wildcats will get one more non-league game in Tuesday at Comsewogue before the league season begins Dec. 11 at East Hampton. Shoreham will play at least three league games without Clasen, who could hopefully return by Jan. 6 when the league season resumes following the holiday break.