01/09/14 9:17pm
01/09/2014 9:17 PM
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Kayla Schroeher of Bishop McGann-Mercy charging toward the basket while Port Jefferson's Jillian Colucci tries to stop her.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Kayla Schroeher of Bishop McGann-Mercy charging toward the basket while Port Jefferson’s Jillian Colucci tries to stop her.

MONARCHS 52, ROYALS 49

The Bishop McGann-Mercy Monarchs have suffered through some bleak high school girls basketball seasons in recent years. Really bleak.

Last season they went 0-18. The season before that they were 0-18. And the season before that they were 1-17. Just one win over three seasons.

Ouch!

If those were the dark ages of McGann-Mercy girls basketball, some light is finally shining through. Brian Babst, the team’s new coach, said it will take time to rebuild the program, but better days — and wins — are ahead for the young Monarchs.

A note of encouragement came on Thursday when the Monarchs earned a league win on the road. They used a 20-5 run that started near the end of the second quarter and ended early in the fourth, giving them the lead for good against Port Jefferson. Six Monarchs scored during that spell. The Royals mounted a late charge, but Mia Behrens, a freshman point guard, made 3 of 4 free throws and blocked a shot in the final 28.2 seconds to help the Monarchs preserve a 52-49 victory in the Suffolk County League VIII game.

Fiona Nunez, a senior who recently came off a two-week bout with strep throat and the flu, returned to form, producing a double-double for the Monarchs (3-4, 2-2), who snapped a three-game-losing streak. Nunez, who shot 6 of 14 from the field, scored 14 points and came down with 13 rebounds, both team-high figures. Behrens, who scored 8 points as did teammate Kayla Schroeher, also had 11 assists, 8 rebounds, 4 steals and 1 block.

Port Jefferson (2-7, 2-2), which trailed by as many as 13 points, was held to 1-for-15 shooting from the field in the third quarter. But the Royals didn’t fold. Courtney Lewis (21 points, 11 rebounds, 5 treys) and Jackie Brown both hit a pair of 3-point shots in the fourth quarter to tighten the gap. (For the game, Port Jefferson attempted 29 treys, making eight of them).

Consecutive 3-pointers by Brown and Lewis cut McGann-Mercy’s lead to 49-46 with 31.1 seconds left. A free throw by Behrens made it a 4-point game before Brown struck again from beyond the arc, swishing a shot from the left wing with 10 seconds to go, making the score 50-49.

Behrens sank a pair of free throws with 7.0 seconds remaining for the game’s final points.

Following a timeout, Port Jefferson’s Olivia Love tried to make an inbounds pass from under own basket, but a scrambling Schroeher hit the floor in an attempted steal, knocking the ball out of bounds. Love had another inbounds attempt, this time with 5.8 seconds to go. She heaved a long pass down to Brown, whose layup attempt was blocked by Behrens.

The Royals then fouled Delaney Macchirole, sending her to the foul line. She missed both foul shots, but the final 1.1 seconds ticked off before the ball bounced out of bounds.

Just like that, the Monarchs tripled their win total from the previous three seasons combined.

Port Jefferson, which suffered its sixth loss in seven games, received 13 points from Corrine Scannell and 10 rebounds from Gillian Kenah.

bliepa@timesreview.com

01/06/14 9:54pm
01/06/2014 9:54 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | McGann-Mercy freshman Megan Kuehhas drives to the basket against Pierson Monday night.

WHALERS 46, MONARCHS 30

It had been nearly three weeks since the last time the McGann-Mercy girls basketball team took the court for a regular season game. The long break, which did include a scrimmage against Riverhead, hardly seemed to slow down the Monarchs early in Monday’s League VIII game against Pierson/Bridgehampton.

The Monarchs raced out to an 8-0 lead and held the Whalers scoreless for the first 4 1/2 minutes.

But as the turnovers mounted, the league-leading Whalers quickly chipped away and took control of the game, eventually running away with a 46-30 victory at McGann-Mercy High School.

Thanks to a quirk in the schedule, it was the second meeting between the two schools already; the Whalers won the first meeting Dec. 30, 48-40.

A young team that starts three freshmen and a sophomore, the Monarchs (2-4, 1-2 League VIII) never got into any rhythm Monday as turnovers plagued them throughout. The Monarchs turned the ball over three times for every field goal made in the game.  They had more turnovers than points in the game.

Pierson (5-6, 4-1 League VIII) went on a 17-3 run from the first quarter into the second to take control of the game. The Whalers led by as many as 18 after three quarters.

The Monarchs were held scoreless in the third quarter as the Whalers scored all nine points.

Senior Kayla Schroeher led the Monarchs with eight points. Kasey Gilbride led all scorers for Pierson with 16.

joew@timesreview.com

12/30/13 7:35pm
12/30/2013 7:35 PM

BLUE WAVES 47, BULLDOGS 41

As a spectator two years ago, eighth-grader Sam Dunn cheered on the Riverhead High School girls basketball team during its march to the Suffolk County Class AA championship and the state semifinals.

“I went to every game,” she said. “I used to sit in the stands and I wanted to do that one day. I wanted to be them.”

Well, Dunn is one of them today. The sophomore forward had an opportunity to perform some heroics of her own in the Blue Waves’ 47-41 girls non-league win at Lindenhurst on Monday.

Dunn scored a season-high 23 points, including 7 during a critical 36-second stretch late in the fourth quarter, to boost a young Riverhead team (3-2). She added 5 rebounds and 1 steal against Lindenhurst (1-6).

Not only has Dunn been thrust into a starting role but a leadership one as well on a team that has two eighth-graders starting at guard.

“It was a big adjustment from being a freshman last year and having all the older girls, Shanice Allen and Naysha Trent, as our role models and me just looking up to them,” she said. “Then, all of sudden I’m one of the oldest players and I have to start stepping up and leading, not relying on them anymore.”

Dunn acquitted herself quite well Monday. First, she helped Riverhead to a 13-9 first-quarter advantage with 9 points.

After eighth-grade guard Kate McCarney’s jumper from the right side broke a 31-31 tie with 4:46 remaining in the fourth quarter, Dunn boosted Riverhead’s lead to 40-33 by hitting a driving basket and a subsequent foul shot with 2:49 left and layups off some nice feeds with 2:33 and 2:13 to go.

“With a tight score like that, we’ve got to start driving to the basket,” she said.

The learning curve sometimes has been steep. But Dunn has been up to the task. She has learned “a lot about leadership, knowing that you have to step up to the plate. You don’t have to rely on anyone any more. That’s the biggest thing for me, that I can’t rely on anyone any more.”

If there was any pressure, Dunn did not show it during crunch time. She also sank 11 of 13 foul shots.

“She’s lethal from the free-throw line,” coach David Spinella said.

Spinella knows that he has some talent to nurture and realizes that he can’t expect giant steps overnight. But he has seen progress.

“They’re going great,” he said. “Every day we’re getting better. We’re working on things. We’re learning to play in game situations. I just have to be patient and understand that it doesn’t matter what our record is at the end of the season, as long as we are getting better every day because pretty much everybody comes back.”

Dunn understands what eighth-grade guards Kim Ligon, Faith Johnson-DeSilvia and McCarney are going through because she was in a similar spot last year.

“I was very nervous all the time and the younger players are experiencing the same thing,” she said. “I have to just suck it all up when they’re down and start playing more.”

These youngsters have gotten better.

“There’s been a big improvement, especially with the younger guards having to step up,” Dunn said. “Even one of the younger girls said, ‘Every day I’m getting more confident, every time I step [onto the court], every practice, every game.’ ”

As well as Dunn played, the Blue Waves were far from a one-young-woman show. Another sophomore forward, 6-foot Dezarae Brown, enjoyed an outstanding game under the basket at both ends, snaring a game-high 15 rebounds and adding 8 points. Senior guard Carolyn Carrera, better known for her heroics as a lacrosse goal-scorer and soccer goalkeeper, came off the bench to help limit sharp-shooter Alexis Perdue to 9 points in the second half after scoring 14 in the first half.

Johnson-DeSilvia also a reserve, hit a trey and sank three free throws in the final 63 seconds.

“I just love it. Basketball is my whole entire life,” Dunn said. “I love being out there with the girls. Whether we win or lose, it’s how hard you work at the end of the day and that’s what matters.”

But winning isn’t too shabby, either.

Perhaps this new generation can emulate the 2012 Blue Waves.

“Maybe in a couple of years,” Dunn said. “That’s what we’re hoping for.”

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

12/25/13 7:00am
12/25/2013 7:00 AM
GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Shanice Allen leapt into the record book, passing Felicia Hobson as Riverhead's all-time leading scorer.

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Shanice Allen leapt into the record book, passing Felicia Hobson as Riverhead’s all-time leading scorer.

During the Riverhead girls basketball team’s spirited run to the state semifinals in 2012, Shanice Allen eclipsed the 1,000-point career milestone during a county championship win. She reached the mark while still just a junior. It made it evident that early the next season, Allen would become the school’s all-time scoring leader.

And Allen earned that honor on Jan. 3, scoring a career-high 36 points in a win over Centereach to pass Felicia Hobson. In the game, Allen brought her career total to 1,208 points. She finished the season as the Blue Waves’ top scorer and was an all-state and all-Long Island selection. Allen now plays for Pace University.

Editor’s note: We’re counting down the top 10 sports stories of 2013. Check back every day until Jan. 1 to follow along.

12/12/13 4:30am
12/12/2013 4:30 AM
DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Bishop McGann-Mercy's Juliana Cintron-Leonardo driving against Southold/Greenport's Kathleen Tuthill.

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Bishop McGann-Mercy’s Juliana Cintron-Leonardo driving against Southold/Greenport’s Kathleen Tuthill.

MONARCHS 49, CLIPPERS 40

Had Wednesday night’s high school girls basketball game between Southold/Greenport and Bishop McGann-Mercy been a television program, one would have felt a need to check the color on the screen. For one thing, there was Cari Gehring, a former McGann-Mercy player, wearing Southold/Greenport red. And there was Joe Read, a former McGann-Mercy coach, wearing a red sweater and coaching Southold/Greenport.

“It was a surreal feeling,” Gehring said. “When I went out there to shake hands with the captains, I didn’t feel like I should be on the red side. It was just a weird feeling.”

Weird turned to distressing for Gehring as the League VIII opener for both teams went to the white and green of McGann-Mercy, 49-40.

Gehring, a senior guard playing in the McGann-Mercy gym for the first time since she was a sophomore for the Monarchs, swished a 3-point shot from the corner to tie the score for the fifth time, 38-38, with 4 minutes 35 seconds to go.

Moments later, Fiona Nunez, playing with neck tightness, hit a 3-pointer herself to snap the tie and ignite a game-closing 11-2 run for the Monarchs (2-1). The Monarchs scored the game’s last four baskets on back-to-back buckets by Savannah Hauser and then consecutive shots by Dayna Young.

“They never gave up,” McGann-Mercy’s first-year coach, Brian Babst, said of his players. “We have people banged up. We have people injured. We’ve got people not here for illness and stuff like that, and the kids stepped it up.”

And disappointed the two people on the Southold/Greenport side who have McGann-Mercy ties. Read had coached McGann-Mercy’s junior varsity team for four years, but he also coached the school’s varsity football and boys basketball teams and figures his relationship with the school covered 12 years. “Coming back, it was weird,” he said.

Read said he knows most of the current McGann-Mercy players. Gehring, who attended the school for three years before transferring to Southold High School this year, knows all of them, including Nunez, who she said is her closest friend.

Read said his players took the loss hard. Perhaps none of them took it harder than Gehring, who had tears in her eyes during a postgame interview.

“I put extra pressure on myself,” she said. “I felt like I had to prove something.”

With the win came a loss for the Monarchs, who saw one of their players crash hard onto the floor while battling for the ball. Fiona Flaherty, a sophomore forward/guard, took the hard fall with 4:01 left in the second quarter. One observer at the scorer’s table said he saw Flaherty land face first onto the court.

“I was really scared,” Gehring said. “She didn’t look O.K.”

Flaherty laid down on the court while she was being attended to. After a while she sat up to a round of applause. Moments later, she stood up to more applause, but looked unsteady on her feet as she was escorted to the team bench area. The game was held up while emergency rescue personnel attended to Flaherty and took her out of the gym in a wheelchair.

“I was just glad that she was O.K. and she talked with me,” Babst said. “I think she got a little upset, a little scared and a little winded.”

Gehring, who has a reputation for being a scorer, first made it into the scorebook when she canned a 3-pointer 5:02 into the game. She was Southold/Greenport’s high scorer with 14 points, shooting 3 of 7 from the field, 2 of 5 from beyond the arc, and 6 of 6 from the foul line. In addition, she had 9 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 assist.

Cindy Van Bourgondien grabbed 13 rebounds for the Clippers (0-2).

The Clippers had a terrible time trying to find the basket. They shot a woeful 18.3 percent (13 of 71). During one long, dreadful stretch, from late in the first quarter to about midway through the third, the Clippers shot 1 for 21.
“I was hoping we were going to be better,” Read said. “I was hoping we could pull it together. We just couldn’t put the basket in when we needed to.”

McGann-Mercy’s scoring was balanced. Kayla Schroeher led eight Monarchs scorers with 10 points. Young produced 9 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal. Megan Kuehhas added 8 points and 5 assists. Juliana Cintron Leonardo and Emily St. Louis supplied 10 rebounds each.

“It’s looking good,” Young said. “We are a lot better than last year and we’re going to get better.”

That’s Babst’s plan.

“It’s been a rough few years here,” he said. “I’ve only been on the job about a month and we’re trying to implement change and it’s the hardest thing to do, so we’re just trying to get the kids to go in the right direction. Today it was a small step in the right direction.”

Babst wasn’t blind to the sense that the game brought added spice because of the Read/Gehring connection, but he didn’t want his players to lose focus on the task at hand. “I told the kids before the game, I said, ‘You got to focus on basketball,’ ” he said. “So, they somewhat bought into the message, but I could see there was a little bit of hype around it. You heard it all day for the last few days.”

Now the talk should subside, at least until Jan. 18 when the teams meet again in Southold.

“It was a fair game, a good game, a hard-played game,” Read said. “It was everything high school basketball should be, very competitive. It was good. Both teams played hard. So, I’m happy — except for the outcome.”

bliepa@timesreview.com

12/07/13 2:09pm
12/07/2013 2:09 PM
DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Courtney Clasen turned in an all-around performance for Shoreham-Wading River with 19 points, 11 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 blocks and 2 assists.

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Courtney Clasen turned in an all-around performance for Shoreham-Wading River with 19 points, 11 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 blocks and 2 assists.

CLIPPERS 47, WILDCATS 38

Christmas music played during breaks in play, lending a festive atmosphere to the non-league high school girls basketball game between Bellport and Shoreham-Wading River on Saturday. But Bellport’s standout player, Arella Guirantes, had added reason to be of good cheer.

It isn’t often when Guirantes feels uncomfortable on a basketball court, but that was the case for the junior guard for several minutes early in the fourth quarter when the spotlight was figuratively cast on her, and her alone.

Guirantes sank a free throw 16 seconds into the fourth quarter of the game at Shoreham-Wading River High School to become the third player in Bellport history to reach the 1,000-point mark. The game was stopped and her achievement was announced on the public-address system. One of the Shoreham players, Shannon Rosati, hugged Guirantes, who was presented with flowers and the game ball that she held as she posed for photographs. She was all smiles.

Afterward, Guirantes had an awful lot to smile about. Having entered the season-opening game needing 24 points to reach 1,000, the player with the smooth shooting touch struck for 35 points. No other Bellport player scored more than 4 points. Guirantes shot 10 of 19 from the field, 2 of 5 from 3-point range and made 13 of 15 foul shots.

And yet, that wasn’t nearly all she did. Guirantes, a productive player, also accounted for 17 rebounds, 7 blocks, 4 steals and 2 assists. Talk about putting in a full day’s work.

Guirantes, who as a sophomore became the third Bellport player to be named to Newsday’s All-Long Island team, has received about a dozen scholarship offers from colleges, according to her coach, Rodney O’Neal. She showed her quality against the Wildcats, who marked a milestone of their own with the varsity coaching debut of Adam Lievre, who was formerly Shoreham’s junior varsity coach.

Try as they did, the Wildcats couldn’t stop Guirantes, who was guarded by Jessica McCormack, but often faced double- and even triple-team attention when she had the ball in her hands.

Guirantes scored Bellport’s first 15 points. By halftime she had already scored 17 points and her 1,000th point seemed a virtual certainty.

Bellport, which held the lead since early in the second quarter, outrebounded the Wildcats by 38-20, and 16-6 on the offensive end. Maame Amankwah pulled in 9 of those rebounds before fouling out with 41.8 seconds left in the game. Earlier in the quarter, her teammate Nicole Powell had picked up her fifth personal foul as a result of a technical foul.

Shoreham’s biggest issue, it seemed, was shooting. The Wildcats shot 30.4 percent from the field and 10 of 22 from the foul line.

It didn’t help Shoreham’s cause that it played without one of its regular starters, senior forward Taylor Whiffen, who was taking a Scholastic Aptitude Test.

The Wildcats did have Courtney Clasen, the talented junior guard/forward who totaled 19 points, 11 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 blocks and 2 assists. Rosati chipped in 11 points.

Both teams endured a scare with 32.7 seconds remaining when Bellport’s Haley Wagner and Shoreham’s Alex Hutchins and Clasen met in a violent collision while racing for a loose ball. Clasen, who took a head to the neck from Hutchins, remained on the floor for a while along with Wagner. Both players walked off and were later said to be fine.

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.