08/06/14 10:24pm
08/06/2014 10:24 PM
Shoreham-Wading River's Maria Smith moves toward the basket during the small schools final against Hampton Bays. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Shoreham-Wading River’s Maria Smith moves toward the basket during the small schools final against Hampton Bays. (Credit: Garret Meade)

The matchup was an intriguing one: Hampton Bays’ Alexis Fotopoulos and Shoreham-Wading River’s Courtney Clasen.

The two central figures in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League girls basketball small schools final had never played against each other before. They both came up big at different times, and in their own ways, in Wednesday evening’s showdown at Eastport/South Manor High School.

In the end, it was Clasen, the senior, and her teammates who ended up with the prize, though not before blowing a 16-point lead and enduring a scare from Fotopoulos and her friends in purple.

(more…)

07/31/14 12:07am
07/31/2014 12:07 AM
Shoreham-Wading River Alex Hutchins faces double-team pressure during her the Wildcats' 43-30 win over Sayville. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Shoreham-Wading River’s Alex Hutchins faces double-team pressure during the Wildcats’ 43-30 win over Sayville on the final night of the regular season. (Credit: Garret Meade)

This has been a summer of basketball for Courtney Clasen, and a busy one, at that.

A player of unquestioned athleticism, Clasen has been known for being more of an athlete who plays basketball than a basketball player. So, this summer she went about working on that by playing for an Amateur Athletic Union team, the Long Island Renegades, and seeing the larger basketball world outside of Suffolk County. An intensive schedule saw the Renegades play close to 30 games (including 13 this past week) while traveling around the country and playing in places like Washington, D.C., Chicago and Orlando.

That’s a lot of basketball, and it was beneficial to the Shoreham-Wading River High School senior. (more…)

07/22/14 4:00pm
07/22/2014 4:00 PM
Shoreham-Wading River guard Caitlin Mirabell goes up for a layup against Bayport-Blue Point Monday night. (Credit: Bill Landon)

Shoreham-Wading River guard Caitlin Mirabell goes up for a layup against Bayport-Blue Point Monday night. (Credit: Bill Landon)

The summer league roster for Shoreham-Wading River is divided into two general camps: the softball girls and the lacrosse girls. Depending on which day of the week it is, the Shoreham girls basketball team playing in the Town of Brookhaven Basketball League can count on at least one group’s absence.  (more…)

02/14/14 9:17pm
02/14/2014 9:17 PM

Shoreham-Wading River junior Courtney Clasen tallied a triple double in the Wildcats’ playoff win over Sayville Friday night. (Bill Landon photo)

CLASS A FIRST ROUND  |  WILDCATS 38, GOLDEN FLASHES 34

Courtney Clasen was admittedly frustrated through most of the first three quarters Friday night. The Shoreham-Wading River junior couldn’t buy a bucket, her team couldn’t hit a free throw and the turnovers continued to pile up.

Sayville opened its largest led of the game at 29-19 with 1:41 left in the third quarter of a Class A first round playoff game, which was slowly slipping away from the fourth-seeded Wildcats. (more…)

12/27/13 4:17pm
12/27/2013 4:17 PM
DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River's Courtney Clasen was unable to block this shot by Mattituck's Liz Dwyer in the first quarter, but Clasen finished with the game with 9 blocks.

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River’s Courtney Clasen was unable to block this shot by Mattituck’s Liz Dwyer in the first quarter, but Clasen finished with the game with 9 blocks.

WILDCATS 50, TUCKERS 45

The Shoreham-Wading River High School girls basketball team suffered a blow recently when one of its best players, senior forward Taylor Whiffen, transferred; she now plays for Sachem East.

The Wildcats undoubtedly felt the loss, but they can be thankful they still have Courtney Clasen. A powerful reminder of Clasen’s value was given Friday when the forward seemed to be everywhere at once, making big plays down the stretch to hold off Mattituck in a non-league game in Shoreham.

What did Clasen do in her team’s 50-45 victory?

Just about everything.

The 5-foot-9 junior scored 21 points, just 1 shy of her career-high, shooting 8 of 16 from the field and 5 of 7 from the free-throw line. She also was a force under the boards, coming down with 19 rebounds in addition to blocking 9 shots. And, for the record, her statistical line also included 4 steals and 2 assists.

Perhaps even more impressive afterward was the postgame reaction of her coach, Adam Lievre, when asked about Clasen’s performance. “Typical” was the word he used.

A typical showing for an atypical player.

Katie Hoeg, who guarded Clasen for most of the game, called her the best all-around player she ever played against.

Clasen’s contributions were the undoubted difference. The Wildcats (4-3) twice built leads as large as 10 points, only to see Mattituck (5-4) close the gap after 5 straight points by Shannon Dwyer and back-to-back baskets by Tiana Baker (the first a 3-pointer). They were part of a 14-2 run that gave the Tuckers a 41-39 edge in the fourth quarter. But moments later, Dwyer picked up her fourth personal foul. She then was charged with a blocking foul to foul out with 3 minutes 5 seconds left in the game.

That was a gut punch for the Tuckers, who held a 1-point lead at the time of Dwyer’s exit to the bench. Meanwhile, Clasen, athletic and fast, continued to do her thing as the contest saw six lead changes in the final 3:57.

Mattituck’s last lead came when Liz Dwyer, Shannon’s younger sister, hit a foul-line jumper for a 45-44 score with less than two minutes to go. Those were Mattituck’s last points.

A free throw by Shoreham’s Jessica McCormack evened the score at 45-45.

Perhaps fittingly, Clasen’s hustle brought about the go-ahead point for her team. After McCormack missed her second free throw, Mattituck’s Courtney Murphy came down with the rebound, but Clasen stole the ball away from her and drew a foul. Clasen made one of the foul shots with 1:19 to go, putting her side ahead for good. Later, she converted a layup off a slicing drive through the middle of the lane and hit a pair of free throws after Baker fouled out with 8.3 seconds left.

Shoreham’s next leading scorer after Clasen was Shannon Rosati with 8 points.

Shannon Dwyer, who shot 5 of 15 from the field and sank 6 of 8 foul shots, finished with 16 points. Liz Dwyer produced 10 points. Hoeg collected 10 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 blocks and 2 steals to go with 6 points.

It was the fourth game the Wildcats played since they lost Whiffen, but it was also the first game back for Kerri Clark, the senior guard who suffered a hamstring injury in the season opener. Clark supplied 7 points coming off the bench.

Mattituck, which had won three of its previous four games, is no stranger to injury, either. The Tuckers are without Colby Prokop for the rest of the season. The junior guard suffered tears to her anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments, said Mattituck coach Steve Van Dood.

bliepa@timesreview.com

12/04/13 6:00pm
12/04/2013 6:00 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead senior Shakiyla Sykes dribbles the ball up court in front of teammate Jessica Cheatom in the Blue Waves’ scrimmage Tuesday at Miller Place.

At times this year, the Riverhead girls basketball team may field a lineup on the court that features no one older than a 10th-grader. A youth movement that began last year will continue into this season for the Blue Waves, who lost their top two scorers to graduation.

While the Blue Waves may be young, they do return a team with varsity experience, led by the towering duo of sophomores Sam Dunn and Dezarae Brown.

Both started last year as freshmen and now with a year of experience under them, they’ll take on even greater roles this season. Brown is listed at 6 feet and Dunn at 5-10.

“I think we might be bigger than we’ve ever been,” said Riverhead coach David Spinella.

Dunn’s all-around game has improved this season, Spinella said, and she’ll be relied on to provide some of the offense.

“She’s really worked on her offensive skills,” Spinella said. “She’s a lot smoother with the basketball. She can handle the ball a lot better and is stronger.”

Brown will be key on the boards for Riverhead, getting put-backs for some easy hoops, Spinella said. The Blue Waves have an advantage in that both Brown and Dunn can run well and get up and down the court in a hurry. That could lead to fastbreak opportunities for both players.

The Blue Waves will feature a backcourt of eighth-graders. Kim Ligon, who played on varsity last year, will play the shooting guard. Kate McCarney, in her first year on varsity, will handle much of the point guard duties.

“She’s making quite a jump but she’s played a lot of AAU with the Long Island Lightning,” Spinella said. “She has stepped in and done a tremendous job. The ball’s going to be in an eighth-grader’s hands most of the season.”

For all the youth on the team, the Blue Waves do have some seniors as well. Carolyn Carrera will likely get some big minutes along with Kyra Miller, Spinella said. The Blue Waves also have seniors Destiny McElroy, Shakiyla Sykes and Gabby Green.

Carrera, a star lacrosse and soccer player, brings leadership to the team with the way she approaches everything she does, Spinella said.

“She approaches it all with such a businesslike mentality,” Spinella said. “The kids appreciate that because she wants to win.”

The Blue Waves expect to continue to rely on their defense to ignite the offense. Spinella said the team has a lot of room for growth and he expects the Blue Waves to only get better and better as the season progresses.

“Defense is something that takes time, especially to play it the way we want to play it,” Spinella said. “With a lot of young kids, it’s a lot to learn.”

The Blue Waves also return juniors Joanna Messina, Jessica Cheatom and Amanda Baron.

Riverhead opens the non-league season Friday with a home game against The Stony Brook School. The league season kicks off Dec. 17 with a challenging game at North Babylon.

As a first-year varsity coach, Adam Lievre has a problem most coaches would love to have: competition for playing time between a number of kids who can all play.

“There are lot of girls of equal talent,” said Lievre, who replaces Dennis Haughney as the girls coach at Shoreham-Wading River. “They’re trying to prove themselves so that’s been very beneficial.”

The Wildcats have been a perennial playoff team in recent years and that figures to remain in place this year. Shoreham returns a strong nucleus in Shannon Rosati, Taylor Whiffen, Courtney Clasen and Kerri Clark.

The biggest question early on this season has been who will fill out the rotation next to those four.

The Wildcats feature a mostly veteran team with seven seniors and five juniors. Lievre said two freshmen will play varsity.

Sophie Triandafils, who played varsity lacrosse last year, and Mackenzie Zajac, are the two freshmen. Lievre said Zajac is a year-round basketball player who plays AAU ball as well.

Year-round basketball players are a rarity these days, but the Wildcats have two of them in Zajac and Whiffen.

The Wildcats will feature some new wrinkles on offense this year with a new coach. But their staple will continue to be defense. The Wildcats have always excelled by their defense fueling fastbreak opportunities.

With quick, athletic players like Rosati and Clasen roaming the court, the Wildcats should be a tough matchup for teams. An added bonus this year for Shoreham is the new 10-second rule, which forces a team to advance the ball past half-court within 10 seconds.

The Wildcats played together during the summer in the Town of Brookhaven League and won the small school championship. During that time, it gave the younger players a chance to mix in with the older group and develop some chemistry. Lievre, who was previously the junior varsity coach, also got a chance to get reacquainted with some of his former players.

The Wildcats scrimmaged Riverhead Monday and Lievre said he liked what he saw in the team’s first action. Shoreham will kick off the regular season Saturday with a non-league game at home against Babylon. The league season begins Tuesday at home against East Hampton.

Looking ahead to the league, Lievre knows there’s one team to look out for: John Glenn. “We all know that’s our big game of the year,” Lievre said.

The Wildcats defeated Glenn in double overtime in the final game of the regular season last year, but lost to the Knights in the playoffs.

08/05/13 10:26pm
08/05/2013 10:26 PM
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River's Courtney Clasen driving to the basket during her team's summer league semifinal win over Sayville on Monday evening.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River’s Courtney Clasen driving to the basket during her team’s summer league semifinal win over Sayville on Monday evening.

Is she a scorer?

Most definitely.

Is she a rebounder?

Absolutely.

Is she a playmaker?

No question about it.

Is she an intimidating defensive presence?

She sure is.

The truth is, Courtney Clasen is all of the above. A player who is not easily defined by a single skill, Clasen brings a fine all-around game to the Shoreham-Wading River girls basketball team. So, when one asks the team’s new coach, Adam Lievre, what Clasen’s official position is, the questioner is bound to encounter a stumped look from the coach. And that isn’t just because Lievre is planning to run a wide open offense during the coming school season, and positions aren’t expected to matter much. Clasen has the ability to play any position on the court. She can bring the ball down the floor as well as play in the post. It’s really an unusual versatility that one doesn’t see often.

Putting it in succinct terms, Lievre said, “She does everything.”

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Jessica McCormick of Shoreham-Wading River battling for a loose ball under the basket.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Jessica McCormick of Shoreham-Wading River battling for a loose ball under the basket.

Now Lievre’s job is to convince the modest Clasen to believe in herself more.

“My goal for the summer and the school year is to get her to realize that she’s even better than she thinks she is,” he said after a recent game. “There are a couple of times — even [Clasen’s teammate] Taylor [Whiffen] said it — she puts on a second gear that someone her size just can’t stay up with. There were a couple of times she got a rebound and just took off. She’s quicker than most people and she jumps higher than everybody.”

Clasen, who will be entering her third varsity season as a junior, gave a good demonstration of what she has to offer as a basketball player on Monday evening in her team’s 32-21 defeat of Sayville in a Town of Brookhaven Summer League small schools semifinal. She totaled 8 points, 11 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 assists and 2 blocks in the game at Patchogue-Medford High School.

Not bad at all.

When asked about how she developed her all-around game, Clasen indicated she doesn’t give much thought to it. “I just go out and play,” she said.

“She’s a great player,” said Whiffen, who has also spent time this summer playing AAU ball for the Long Island Renegades. “She’s everywhere on the court. She understands the game really well.”

With the graduation of Meghan King, the team’s leadership mantle has been passed on to Clasen, Shannon Rosati and Whiffen.

The Wildcats didn’t have Rosati for the semifinal, but they did have Whiffen, who provided 8 points, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals.

Lievre said he values Clasen most for her rebounding, but Whiffen can also crash the boards. “She’s really one of the first girls that we’ve had that can really play with her back to the basket and make a post move,” the coach said.

With Monday’s win, Shoreham qualified for the small schools final on Wednesday night against either Eastport/South Manor or Hampton Bays at St. Joseph’s College.

Monday’s result aside, the Wildcats are hoping for a cleaner performance. The semifinal was a sloppy affair, with both teams combining for 60 turnovers.

“It definitely wasn’t our prettiest game,” said Lievre.

Neither side shot well, either, but Shoreham atoned for its offensive sins by dominating on the boards, 31-15.

Erin MacDevitt led Sayville with 11 points.

Lievre didn’t sound too concerned with the offense, though. “Even doing JV for 10 years, I always told [the players that] summer league is defense. We’ll worry about offense during the school year.”

And reaching a small schools final is a nice plus.

Said Lievre, “Winning isn’t everything, but it’s nice to win, and it’s something to build on.”

bliepa@timesreview.com