02/19/13 7:21pm
02/19/2013 7:21 PM
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Kari Gostic of Shoreham-Wading River passed Elwood/John Glenn defenders before putting up a shot.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Kari Gostic of Shoreham-Wading River passed Elwood/John Glenn defenders before putting up a shot.

SUFFOLK CLASS A SEMIFINAL | KNIGHTS 56, WILDCATS 49

Shoreham-Wading River’s girls basketball team has never advanced to a county final. Not even once. The Wildcats will have to live with that fact for at least another year.

It’s not so much that Shoreham-Wading River is cursed, as Elwood/John Glenn is blessed — with talent.

Elwood/John Glenn, one of the most successful programs in Suffolk County, has been a major obstacle in Shoreham-Wading River’s path to a county final, and was so again on Tuesday. With three of its players scoring in double figures, the third-seeded Knights beat No. 2 Shoreham-Wading River on its home court, 56-49, in a Suffolk Class A semifinal. It is the third straight year in which Elwood/John Glenn has ended Shoreham-Wading River’s playoff run. It is the fifth time in six years that Shoreham-Wading River has finished one win shy of a county final.

“We’ve had a lot of good opportunities, so I guess that means we have a pretty good program,” Shoreham-Wading River coach Dennis Haughney said. “We’ve been close for a while. It just so happens that they’ve been a little better. Maybe one day this program will get a little better than that program, and they’ll feel cursed for a while.”

With the victory, the defending Long Island champion Knights (18-2) earned a place in Friday night’s county title game at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue against No. 1 Harborfields or No. 4 Islip. It will be Elwood/John Glenn’s third straight county final.

“It’s a new bunch of kids, and they are the ones that are taking us to the final, not me, and they did a great job,” said Elwood/John Glenn coach Andrew Athanas.

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Meghan King, playing in her final game for Shoreham-Wading River, posted 9 points, 13 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 assists and 1 steal.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Meghan King, playing in her final game for Shoreham-Wading River, posted 9 points, 13 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 assists and 1 steal.

Elwood/John Glenn and Shoreham-Wading River (14-5) are the League VI co-champions, but the Knights, who have won all five of their playoff meetings with the Wildcats since 2008, were a notch better on Tuesday. Unlike the previous game between the teams, a double-overtime thriller won by Shoreham-Wading River on Feb. 7, Elwood/John Glenn was at full strength on Tuesday. Meaghan Haber, a senior guard, sat out the Feb. 7 game with an injured ankle; Mackenzie Sivilli, a junior guard, played hurt.

Both were in the starting lineup in the semifinal, though.

“It made a big difference,” said Athanas.

For one thing, Haber brought 14 points worth of offense to the Knights. They also received 16 points from Emma Klis and 15 from Tanna Mohammed. Klis and Sivilli had 5 assists each.

Successive 3-point shots by Haber, Sivilli and Haber again kick-started a 14-0 run that put Elwood/John Glenn ahead, 25-9, with 3 minutes 48 seconds left in the second quarter.

But Shoreham-Wading River showed resilience, pulling to within 3 points by halftime and taking the lead at 26-25 on back-to-back baskets by Sabrina Santiago (11 points, 5 assists) and Meghan King (9 points, 13 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 assists, 1 steal) to start the third quarter.

The teams traded leads five times after that. Elwood/John Glenn went in front for good, 38-37, on a shot by Haber late in the third quarter, the second of four straight baskets by the Knights.

“It’s a game of runs, and they were the team that had more runs in them today,” said Haughney.

Elwood/John Glenn used a 13-2 surge to open the fourth quarter, 7 of those points coming from Mohammed.

“We really made sure that we used the clock,” Haber said. “We passed the ball. We really worked as a team and made sure we got that right shot.”

While Shoreham-Wading River started the game in a 3-for-15 shooting slump, Elwood/John Glenn showed that it is one of the better outside shooting teams around. The Knights hit on 48.7 percent of their shots from the field, including 7 of 14 from 3-point range. Shoreham-Wading River finished at 34 percent.

“They’re a very good outside shooting team, and I think that’s what killed us,” said Santiago.

It was Elwood/John Glenn’s accurate shooting that atoned for its struggles on the boards. The Knights were outrebounded, 36-23, and by 17-6 on the offensive end.

Courtney Clasen brought Shoreham-Wading River 12 points and 8 rebounds.

With the two teams having played each other three times this season (two of those games ending in Elwood/John Glenn’s favor), the players know each other well, “pretty much by almost middle name,” said Haber.

Haber said that despite her team’s successful history, the Knights knew better than to take anything for granted. “We knew this game we had to come out and really fight,” she said.

Elwood/John Glenn looked focused, and that was no accident. Athanas said the team was coming off its two best practices of the season. “They were pumped and ready,” he said.

Santiago said it was a season to remember for Shoreham-Wading River, which earned its first league title since 2002.

As for that evasive county final, she said, “One day we’ll get there.”

bliepa@timesreview.com

02/07/13 8:09pm
02/07/2013 8:09 PM
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River's Taylor Whiffen took an elbow to the head from Elwood/John Glenn's Jillian Del Grasso while shooting.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River’s Taylor Whiffen took an elbow to the head from Elwood/John Glenn’s Jillian Del Grasso while shooting.

WILDCATS 59, KNIGHTS 48 (2 OT)

Meghan King said she had never been at the free-throw line before, in a situation such as the one she faced Thursday, with not only a game on the line, but a league championship as well.

But there she was, having been fouled with her Shoreham-Wading River girls basketball team trailing Elwood/John Glenn by 2 points with 12.3 seconds to go in the fourth quarter. Talk about pressure.

King said she was telling herself at the time to approach it like she was at practice, focusing on the shots, not the scoreboard, and forgetting about the surroundings, the crowd and everything else.

And yet, it was still there. In the back of her mind, she said, an inner voice was reminding her of the significance of the free throws. That inner voice, King said, reminded her, “‘You know, you got to make these so we will win.”

After King hit the first free throw, Elwood/John Glenn coach Andrew Athanas called timeout, perhaps hoping to ice the senior.

No such luck.

King converted the second one as well as four more in overtime. In one of the most thrilling games in the team’s recent history, Shoreham-Wading River toppled visiting Elwood/John Glenn, 59-48, in double overtime to finish the regular season in a tie for first place in Suffolk County League VI with the Knights. It is the Wildcats’ first league title since 2002.

“It was well worth the wait,” said Shoreham-Wading River coach Dennis Haughney.

Elwood/John Glenn, the defending Long Island Class A champion, is a league champion for the 10th time in 12 years.

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Shannon Rosati of Shoreham-Wading River attempting an off-balance shot while Elwood/John Glenn's Mackenzie Sivilli tries to stop her.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shannon Rosati of Shoreham-Wading River attempting an off-balance shot while Elwood/John Glenn’s Mackenzie Sivilli tries to stop her.

The drama of Thursday’s game, which was pushed forward a day from the original schedule because of an expected snowstorm, left Haughney searching for words. “That was the most exciting game I’ve ever been involved with,” he said. “Unbelievable. I’m speechless, to be honest with you.”

A big difference between the two teams, which pushed each other to the limit, was King’s clutch free throws. It was nothing fancy, nothing spectacular, just basic free-throw shooting that paved the way for the Wildcats’ big win.

King was a driving force for the Wildcats, collecting 19 points and 18 rebounds, both game-high figures. But it was her free-throw shooting that proved critical. King, who shot 9 for 12 from the foul line, sank her last six attempts.

Asked about her skill as a foul shooter, King said: “I’ve had my ups and downs, but the past couple of weeks I’ve been staying after practice, just shooting, shooting and shooting it. I didn’t want to have the game in my hands and then lose it.”

Haughney said, statistically speaking, he was not sure if King is the team’s best foul shooter, but “she’s a streaky kid, and when she gets going, she’s the best.”

Shoreham-Wading River (14-4, 11-1) had a chance to win the contest in regulation time. With 2.1 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Courtney Clasen inbounded the ball to Sabrina Santiago, who was just across the mid-court line. Santiago dribbled between two defenders and pushed an air ball that fell well short of its target. The score remained 37-37.

The Wildcats had waited 11 years for a league championship, so what was another eight minutes? It was time for overtime.

King netted a pair of free throws with 11.5 seconds remaining in the first overtime period to put Shoreham-Wading River ahead, 44-42. Moments later, though, Elwood/John Glenn’s Monika Sivilli and Mackenzie Sivilli made passes to set up Lexie Koenke’s 15-foot jump shot, evening the score at 44-44. After a Shoreham-Wading River traveling violation with one second left in the first overtime, Mackenzie Sivilli received an inbounds pass from Emma Klis and hoisted a desperate attempt off the back rim at the buzzer.

On to the second overtime.

Shoreham-Wading River seized momentum and scored the first 8 points of the second four-minute overtime period to build a 52-44 lead. King, Taylor Whiffen and Keri Clark contributed points during that spurt.

The game was something of a battle of attrition, too, with three players fouling out. Shoreham-Wading River’s Shannon Rosati picked up all five of her personal fouls in the second half. Then, in the second overtime session, Klis and Alexis Groark fouled out for Elwood/John Glenn (16-2, 11-1), which shot 1 for 7 from the field in the second overtime.

ESPN would have classified the game as an “Instant Classic.”

When the end came, a tired Clasen was relieved. “I was like, ‘Thank God,’ ” she said. “After all those overtimes, I was wondering when it was going to end.”

Shoreham-Wading River, which won for the sixth straight time since an 18-point loss to Elwood/John Glenn on Jan. 15, received a double-double from Clasen, who had 13 points, 12 rebounds, 6 steals, 5 assists and 1 block. Rosati scored 10 points.

Elwood/John Glenn, which saw its winning streak snapped at nine games, received 18 points from Monika Sivilli. Mackenzie Sivilli supplied 12 points.

After the game, the Knights were clearly upset at having failed to win the league title outright and having to share the crown.

“They obviously wanted it very badly,” Athanas said of his players. “It meant a lot to us.”

For King, the lesson of the day was a simple one that youngsters might want to listen to: Practice your foul shots.

“They come in handy,” she said.

bliepa@timesreview.com

01/24/13 6:44pm
01/24/2013 6:44 PM

WILDCATS 45, MUSTANGS 17

The game itself was surely not a work of art. It is highly doubtful that the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame will be calling to request video of Thursday’s girls basketball game between Shoreham-Wading River and Mount Sinai. In fact, the Shoreham-Wading River coach, Dennis Haughney, said he wouldn’t watch the game video if he didn’t have to.

Not that Shoreham-Wading River didn’t play well, because it did, and in the process, the Wildcats coasted to a 45-17 win that kept them running virtually neck and neck with Elwood/John Glenn in the race for the Suffolk County League VI championship. It was Shoreham-Wading River’s 11th win in 12 games and third straight victory since an 18-point loss to Elwood/John Glenn.

This could be a special season for Shoreham-Wading River (11-4, 8-1), which is seeking its first league title since 2002.

“You want to give it a shot,” Haughney said. “We don’t talk about it a lot.”

But the Wildcats have a lot to play for, nonetheless.

“We’re working so hard,” junior forward Taylor Whiffen said. “There’s something for us to accomplish. We’ve been trying this for years. Last year we wanted to win [the league], but this year we really think we have a chance.”

Shoreham-Wading River kept its chances looking good by taking care of business Thursday at Mount Sinai High School in a game that didn’t always look so good.

For most of the opening six minutes, the score stood at 2-0 Shoreham-Wading River thanks to a basket by Meghan King. Both teams were in a shooting funk, and the first quarter ended with the score 6-0. But as the Wildcats slowly picked up their scoring, their defense remained intense, and Mount Sinai (7-7, 2-7) struggled mightily. The Mustangs finally got on the scoreboard when Carissa Gulli made a free throw 1:55 into the second quarter.

Mount Sinai managed only 3 points in the first half from three free throws, and it missed its first nine shots from the field. Shoreham-Wading River held the Mustangs without a field goal until Kate Hogan put in a two-handed shot in the paint 16 seconds into the third quarter.

Mount Sinai shot 6 of 34 (17.6 percent) from the field for the game, yet managed to make it a 10-point contest when a basket by Marisa Colacino cut Shoreham-Wading River’s lead to 17-7 early in the third quarter.

Haughney couldn’t rest easy. “I’ve seen crazy stuff happen,” he said.

But the Wildcats then scored the next 9 points — 6 of them coming from King — to run the score to 26-7. Later, Shoreham-Wading River opened the fourth quarter with a 16-4 spurt in which six players scored for the Wildcats, giving their side a 42-15 lead late in the game.

King had a big day. Before the senior forward made her exit along with teammate Courtney Clasen with 1:49 left in the game, she had collected 15 points, 11 rebounds, 6 steals and 1 blocked shot. Keri Clark added 10 points with the aid of three 3-point shots. Clasen totaled 5 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 1 blocked shot.

Shoreham-Wading River outrebounded the home team by 44-27 and by 18-5 on the offensive glass.

What King liked best about the game, though, was Shoreham-Wading River’s ball movement.

“It was a good game for passing,” she said. “We still had mistakes, obviously, and that’s going to happen with every game. We were finding the open girl and passing inside.”

Shoreham-Wading River didn’t exactly shoot the lights out, hitting 15 of 46 (32.6 percent) field-goal attempts, but it played aggressive defense, challenging Mount Sinai shooters at every turn.

Jessica Parente was the top scorer for Mount Sinai with 8 points.

“Defensively, we always work hard, and I think that always gives us a chance,” Haughney said. “I really feel like we haven’t brought our best game yet as far as just all around hitting shots and whatnot. I guess we’re just athletic enough and work hard enough and do enough good things just to win the games.”

Shoreham-Wading River started the day in second place, a half-game behind Elwood/John Glenn. The teams will meet in their final regular-season game on Feb. 8 in Shoreham. That game could be for the league crown.

“I think we’re finally starting to work as a team,” Whiffen said. “We’re moving the ball more, our shots are falling. We’ve been working hard, and it’s paying off. We haven’t played our best game but we’re still working hard, and it will come.”

bliepa@timesreview.com

01/22/13 7:25pm
01/22/2013 7:25 PM

WILDCATS 49, PHANTOMS 37

Shoreham-Wading River coach Dennis Haughney could see the hard work junior Kerri Clark put in every practice and the way she prepared for each game. So there wasn’t any hesitation on Haughney’s part when an injury forced him to insert Clark into the starting lineup two games ago.

In her first start against Amityville Thursday, Clark poured in a career-high 15 points as the Wildcats won in a blowout.

Against Bayport-Blue Point Tuesday in a pivotal League VI game, she topped that in the first half.

When Clark swished a 3-pointer at the buzzer to conclude the first half at Shoreham-Wading River High School, the 5-foot-2 point guard had as many points (17) as the Phantoms. She finished with 24 as the Wildcats led from start to finish in a 49-37 victory.

Clark became the first Shoreham player this season to surpass 20 points in a game.

“My shot was on and I felt that during warmups,” Clark said. “I knew I should shoot the ball more and I had a lot of open opportunities.”

Clark sank four 3-pointers, which was also a season-high for a Shoreham player this season.

“There’s a reason why she’s doing well,” Haughney said. “She’s prepared like she’s ready to play every practice. That’s why she’s ready.”

Senior guard Sabrina Santiago had been starting for Shoreham in the backcourt alongside junior Shannon Rosati. But against John Glenn Jan. 15 — the lone league loss for the Wildcats — Santiago banged her knee and has been sidelined since.

Clark, who had been in the rotation off the bench, got the call to the starting lineup.

“I work hard every practice and today I had an opportunity to show everything,” Clark said.

“She’s definitely one of the better shooters on the team,” Haughney added.

Clark played all 32 minutes against Bayport and was admittedly fatigued afterward. But it was well worth it.

“I was looking forward to see what she could do with the opportunity,” Haughney said. “She made the most of it.”

The Wildcats (10-4, 7-1 League VI) also got 15 points from Rosati, who was key in transition off turnovers. The Wildcats love to play pressure defense and it allowed them to force 10 first-quarter turnovers. Shoreham jumped ahead 17-7 after one.

While the guards excel at jumping in the passing lanes and forcing turnovers, Haughney said having two bigs down low to anchor the defense gives the guards confidence to play aggressively.

Senior Meghan King and junior Taylor Whiffen are both 5-foot-11 and give the Wildcats an intimidating presence down low.

“They know Meghan and Taylor are going to be there to protect them from behind,” Haughney said.

The Wildcats already clinched a playoff spot and still have the league title within reach. John Glenn, the perennial road block, knocked off Shoreham 54-36 and is still unbeaten at 6-0. The Wildcats will face Glenn in a rematch at home Feb. 8 in the final game of the regular season.

“Hopefully if things work out well that will be for a league title,” Haughney said.

The Wildcats have beaten the three teams they must face before Glenn (Mount Sinai, East Hampton, Miller Place) by an average of 32 points.

Haughney said he felt Bayport was the next best team in the league after Glenn and his own squad.

The Phantoms, who got 16 points from Paige Faherty Tuesday, fell to 8-6 overall and 4-4 in league.

“It was almost like a playoff-type game,” Haughney said. “I think they’re going to be a playoff team so it was a nice game.”

Bayport jumped out to a quick 7-0 run in the second quarter to trim Shoreham’s lead to three. It was as close as the Phantoms would get the rest of the way. The Wildcats ended the quarter on an 11-3 run to take a 28-17 lead into the locker room.

joew@timesreview.com

12/27/12 3:50pm
12/27/2012 3:50 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River’s Meghan King, battling Mattituck’s Katie Hoeg and Molly Kowalski (No. 22) for possession.

WILDCATS 53, TUCKERS 20

The question had to be asked: What doesn’t Courtney Clasen do on the basketball court?

Clasen, a sophomore guard for the Shoreham-Wading River girls basketball team, has a remarkably balanced game. She can score. She can rebound. She can pass. She can dribble.

On Thursday, Clasen did all of the above and more as the Wildcats rolled over Mattituck, 53-20, in a non-league game at Mattituck High School.

By the time Clasen walked off the court and headed to the bench with 6 minutes 43 seconds left to play in the rout, she had accumulated quite an impressive statistical line: 12 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 1 blocked shot.

Not bad for a day’s work.

“That’s pretty typical,” Shoreham-Wading River coach Dennis Haughney said. “She’s a really good athlete. She can do a little bit of everything.”

Not that numbers mean a whole lot to Clasen, a team-oriented player in her second varsity season. She said she had learned “not to worry about the stats, just have fun.”

It surely looked like Clasen and her teammates were having fun as Shoreham-Wading River coasted to its fifth win in eight games. The Wildcats are already halfway to clinching a seventh straight playoff berth with a 3-0 record in Suffolk County League VI.

“It’s what we always aim for at the end of the year — playoffs,” said Clausen.

Shoreham-Wading River, a Class A team that had played in county semifinals the last four years, looked revved up for its final game of the calendar year. Meghan King scored 9 of her team-leading 13 points during a 21-0 run that gave Shoreham-Wading River a crippling 48-14 lead about midway through the fourth quarter. The Wildcats shot 8 for 14 from the field during that spurt.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Courtney Clasen’s all-around play featured 13 rebounds.

“Nothing fell for us,” Mattituck forward Nicole Murphy said. “It didn’t feel real. The game didn’t feel real at all.”

The reality was that Shoreham-Wading River opened the contest with a 10-0 lead. The Wildcats held Mattituck (5-4, 2-1 League VII) to a season-low scoring output and 22.9-percent (8 of 35) shooting from the field. Shoreham-Wading River also enjoyed a 44-30 rebounding advantage. On the offensive boards, the Wildcats held a 21-9 superiority.

Shannon Rosati added 9 points to Shoreham-Wading River’s cause.

“You might want to burn the film on this one,” Mattituck coach Steve Van Dood said. “That’s a good way to look at it, but there were so many glaring errors that it’s kind of hard to overlook.”

Shoreham-Wading River’s defense already looks playoff ready. The Wildcats stole the ball 16 times and forced Mattituck into committing 24 turnovers. In contrast, Shoreham-Wading River turned the ball over nine times.

“I think we played sharp,” Haughney said. “You can tell by the effort defensively that we came to play.”

The final non-league game of the season for Mattituck was one the Tuckers would rather forget.

“Honestly,” Murphy said, “I sat on the bench, like, ‘What is happening?’ I sat there with my mouth open and was in disbelief at half the stuff that happened.”

Only four Tuckers made it into the scoring column, led by Shannon Dwyer with 6 points. It was a stunner for a team that had been averaging 56 points per game, but Mattituck wasn’t driving to the basket, and it certainly wasn’t getting bounces to go its way.

“Shots were not dropping,” Van Dood said. “Everything, missed layups, missed chip shots clanging in and out. That’s the story of the game sometimes, unfortunately. Some nights you get all the bounces and all the rolls, and other nights you just don’t get anything.”

It took Mattituck 4:45 to finally get on the scoreboard thanks to an Alex Berkoski layup. The Tuckers didn’t hit double figures until Berkoski knocked down a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the second quarter.

“It was a combination of us not shooting, us not boxing out, and making some bad passes,” Van Dood said. “That’s going to kill you every time.”

Murphy said the game was a setback and a wakeup call for Mattituck.

“We will be playing better,” she promised. “We’re going to be working harder, a lot harder, so nobody should have to come and see a game like that again.”

bliepa@timesreview.com