08/07/13 8:21pm
08/07/2013 8:21 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River junior Courtney Clasen scored a game-high 17 points Wednesday against Hampton Bays.

There was no joyous pileup at mid-cout when the buzzer sounded, but the result still was reason to celebrate.

Backed by a 17-point performance from Courtney Clasen, the Shoreham-Wading River girls basketball team clinched the Town of Brookhaven Small School Summer League title Wednesday night with a 39-30 victory over Hampton Bays at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue.

The victory marked the end of the summer season for the Wildcats, who lost only once while picking up 11 victories. And more importantly, they gained some key cohesion and momentum to build off for the upcoming varsity season.

For now, most of the players will turn their attention to soccer, volleyball and field hockey.

But when they reconvene in November, the girls will have plenty of confidence that another run to the playoffs is within reach.

The Wildcats exorcised some demons of the summer league, where they’ve come up short of the title in recent years. Their usual nemesis’s like Southampton and Harborfields weren’t in the league this year, opening the door for Shoreham.

It looked early on as the Wildcats might come up short again. After Clasen scored a layup off the opening tip five seconds into the game, the Wildcats went the next 19 minutes without a field goal, falling behind 14-5.

But a switch to full-court press on defense ignited the offense as the Wildcats were able to do what they do best: force turnovers and get easy baskets.

Clasen scored off an offensive rebound with 8:30 left in the second half to cap a 19-point turnaround as the Wildcats went ahead 33-23.

Senior Taylor Whiffen scored 10 points for Shoreham and senior Shannon Rosati added 8. The trio combined for 35 of the Wildcats’ 39 points.

joew@timesreview.com

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | The Wildcats won the 2013 Town of Brookhaven Small School Summer League championship.

07/23/13 9:58pm
07/23/2013 9:58 PM

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River freshman Alex Kuhnle takes a shot in the first half of Tuesday’s summer league game against Sayville.

The Shoreham-Wading River girls soccer team was never overpowered last year, even in a rare down year that ended without a trip to the postseason. Only once did the Wildcats lose a game by more than one goal.

The problem, generally, tended to be scoring.

“I think they thought because they lost all those seniors, Kari [Quinn] and Shannon [McDonnell], I think they thought they weren’t going to be as good as they really were,” said Shoreham coach Adrian Gilmore.

A year older and wiser, and having lost only two regular contributors from last year’s team, the Wildcats are poised to take a step forward going into the fall season.

Judging by their performance in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League, the Wildcats believe they can create more offense this year.

One reason for optimism is the return of sophomore Meghan Kelly, who tallied 10 goals in the summer to tie for the league lead.

Another has been the emergence of freshman Alex Kuhnle, who has quickly made an impression on Gilmore.

Kuhnle easily stood out Tuesday against Sayville playing left halfback in a shortened game that was twice-delayed by weather. Sayville won 1-0 on a second-half penalty kick at Patchogue-Medford Youth Complex.

Gilmore said she had heard of Kuhnle and knew she was a talented player, but hadn’t seen her in action until the summer league. A skilled lefty, Kuhnle plays on a number of different soccer teams throughout the year.

“She’s very unselfish,” Gilmore said. “There have been times where I thought maybe she should have shot the ball and she passed it.”

Kelly and Kuhnle represent a young core for the Wildcats to build around for the next few seasons.

“I’m excited to see the combination of her and Meghan up front,” Gilmore said.

Kuhnle had the best scoring chance for Shoreham against Sayville when her shot off a rebound was stopped by a diving goalkeeper. It set up Shoreham’s lone corner kick.

The Wildcats (4-5) haven’t had as many players on the varsity summer team as in years past, which led to two of their losses being forfeits. As tends to be the case in summer league, each game is often a mishmash of different players.

Midfielder Courtney Clasen played in goal Tuesday in the absence of senior Kelly Wynkoop, who was away on a college function.

Clasen will be another key player in the midfield during the regular season, and one player who Gilmore hopes can provide a few more goals.

“She’s outstanding,” Gilmore said. “She’s started and played every game since she’s been in ninth grade. She shoots that ball and I think it will all come together very nicely.”

With most of last year’s team returning, Gilmore said she doesn’t plan on keeping a very large varsity roster in the fall, which will make for some intense competition in tryouts.

In the summer league, Shoreham’s junior varsity team has 29 players, Gilmore said. Most are going into either eighth or ninth grade, Gilmore said.

“It looks like we’re going to have a couple good years of some good athletes coming up,” Gilmore said.

joew@timesreview.com

07/08/13 9:12pm
07/08/2013 9:12 PM

 

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead junior Joanna Messina shoots a jumper against Longwood Monday in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League.

As Riverhead coach David Spinella looked onto the court Monday night inside the sweltering gym at Sachem East High School, he saw three eighth graders and a pair of sophomores at one point.

And he also saw what could end up as Riverhead’s starting lineup come November and the start of the varsity season.

For a young team, summer is a valuable time to begin putting the pieces together and building toward the future. And the Blue Waves have shown a commitment to the game, including playing in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League, where they lost to Longwood Monday, 39-22.

“They’re really working hard together,” Spinella said. “Today they just didn’t have it. And that was frustrating to watch.”

With Shanice Allen’s graduation, the Blue Waves will rely on a young core moving forward.

The good news is, three of those players already have varsity experience.

Forwards Sam Dunn and Dezarae Brown both started games last year as freshmen. And Kim Ligon opened the season as the starting point guard while just a seventh grader before her role was scaled back.

It’s a busy summer for all three, who are all basketball-first athletes.

Dunn and Brown play on the same Amateur Athletic Union basketball team. And three other Riverhead players are also playing AAU ball this summer in addition to the Riverhead team.

“They’re honing their own personal skills and bringing that to the team now,” Spinella said. “We have a stronger post presence than we’ve had in a long time.”

Dunn played a big role on the varsity last year and will become an even more important player over the next few years with her rebounding and low-post scoring. While she’s still only going into her sophomore year, she’s already developed into one of the team’s leaders. Spinella said Joanna Messina, who was called up to varsity during the season last year as a sophomore, has become another leader on the team.

“As far as leading by example, they come every day, they always go 100 percent,” Spinella said. “As a whole, they really are feeding off each other. They really are a family.”

At the start of last season, Spinella talked about how he enjoyed getting back to teaching some of the basics that comes with a younger team. The year before that, the Blue Waves had a veteran team of seniors that advanced to the state semifinals.

Now, it’ll be even more of that teaching.

The lesson Monday was, no matter the game or circumstance, players need to go 100 percent when on the court. Spinella kept the group for a longer than usual talk following the game, just to make the message got across.

“Longwood’s better than us for sure,” he said. “They’re bigger, stronger, older. I had no problem with that — just the way we were hanging our heads and jogging. We were supposed to be pressing and we’re all back at halfcourt.”

Coming off a long weekend and playing inside on a hot day likely didn’t help their cause, but Spinella wasn’t looking for excuses, even if it’s just summer ball.

“You put the jersey on, you got to go as hard as you can,” he said. “But tomorrow’s another day and Wednesday’s another game.”

On Tuesday night’s during the summer the girls get together to work with a strength and conditioning coach. They also practice together and take time to work on their individual games, Spinella said.

“They all come and they all bust their butt,” he said.

The hard work now should pay off in the future. Most of the girls on the summer team are getting their first taste of varsity action. Some girls were only on the middle school team last winter.

“It’s all stuff that in the long run I think benefit,” Spinella said. “They’re committed and they bought in and that’s the most important thing.”

joew@timesreview.com

08/08/12 10:41pm
08/08/2012 10:41 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | From left, Shoreham-Wading River’s Sabrina Santiago, Southampton’s Cassidy Guida and Shoreham-Wading River’s Alex Fehnel keeping focus on the ball.

The summer of 2012 has given the Shoreham-Wading River girls basketball team a lot to feel good about, particularly the beginning and the middle. As for the end, well, that’s another story.

That end came on Wednesday evening, and it is one the Wildcats would rather forget.

A 24-point loss to Southampton was not exactly what the Wildcats had envisioned, even if it was in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League small schools final. Southampton’s quickness and harassing defense gave Shoreham-Wading River fits, handing the Wildcats their first loss on the court this summer, 42-18, at St. Joseph’s College’s John A. Danzi Athletic Center.

“They definitely took advantage of every mistake that we made,” Shoreham-Wading River senior forward Alex Fehmel said. “Whenever we didn’t come to the ball they would take it from us. … They were very quick on their feet, and I don’t think we expected it to be like that.”

Shoreham-Wading River’s only other loss in the 12 games it played was by forfeit to Southampton. Those two teams, along with Islip, had finished the regular season with division-leading 8-1 records.

But the Wildcats weren’t helped by the fact that they were without two of their most experienced points guards for the small schools final: Cari Gostic and Courtney Clasen. Against a speedy, athletic backcourt like Southampton’s, that can be a problem.

As if the Wildcats didn’t have enough to worry about, contending with Paris Hodges and her sister, Noel Hodges, there was also the active Cassidy Guida and Kesi Goree, an inside force. It was too much for Shoreham-Wading River.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Shannon Rosati of Shoreham-Wading River driving to the basket while Southampton’s Noel Hodges tries to draw a charging foul.

Southampton has several skilled ballhandlers, perhaps the best being Paris Hodges. Shoreham-Wading River coach Dennis Haughney was struck by how the senior handled double-team pressure. “This girl was not only controlling the ball,” he said, “she was splitting both of our girls and bringing it to the next level and kicking it out” to open teammates for a shot.

Indeed Paris Hodges’ quality came through. She would have been the clear choice for a player of the game honor. Her all-around performance included 8 points, 9 steals, 6 assists and 4 rebounds.

Southampton’s defense forced Shoreham-Wading River into making 27 turnovers (the Mariners, on the other hand, had only eight). The Mariners collected 23 steals, one more than their rebound total.

“I’ll be honest,” Shoreham-Wading River senior forward Meghan King said. “Southampton, they were playing a great game.”

Things started off well enough for Shoreham-Wading River when a basket by Taylor Whiffen brought the Wildcats the game’s first two points. It was all Southampton after that, though. Guida sank a pair of 3-point shots as Southampton went on a 13-0 surge.

By the time the first half was over, Shoreham-Wading River had only six points to show for itself — and a 15-point deficit. Almost as concerning for the Wildcats was that their top player, King, had no points next to her name.

Two more 3-pointers by Guida highlighted a 15-0 run that gave Southampton a comfortable 36-10 lead.

All 12 of Guida’s points came from threes. Goree ended up with 10 points.

Whiffen was Shoreham-Wading River’s leading scorer with 6 points. King and Shannon Rosati had 5 each. King, who said she is still not fully recovered from an ankle injury she sustained earlier this summer, also grabbed 8 rebounds.

With Clasen and Gostic missing, Sabrina Santiago, Rosati and Kerry Clark saw time at point guard.

How much did it hurt not having Clasen and Gostic?

“Both of the players that we were missing are very good,” Fehmel said, “so it was a little hard not having them on the court, but we do the best that we can with whoever we have and everyone who steps on the court gives 110 percent.”

Shoreham-Wading River looks in good shape for the upcoming school season. Clasen, King, Rosati and Whiffen are returning starters, and the Wildcats lost only one player from last season’s varsity playoff team. King was an all-conference player, Rosati and Whiffen were both all-league choices, and Clasen received the League VI rookie of the year award.

“We’ve got a bright future and I think the girls are going to be good for years, it’s just how good are we going to be?” Haughney said. “It’s nice to be good. We have been good, but we really want to try to get to that next level.”

As for this summer, it was a good one for the Wildcats. It’s just that the last game left a bad taste in their mouths.

“We had a lot of good moments over the summer, a real lot of good moments, but you never want it to end that way,” Haughney said. “It just makes you realize the things you have to work on and how it feels and how you don’t want to feel like that again.”

bliepa@timesreview.com

08/07/12 12:54am
08/07/2012 12:54 AM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River’s Greg Canelly, right, scored the Wildcats’ second goal against Center Moriches from a direct free kick.

The way the summer has gone for the Shoreham-Wading River varsity boys soccer team, one goal would have been enough. But the Wildcats got two, just in case.

Two first-half tallies and another superior defensive effort propelled Shoreham-Wading River to a 2-0 victory over Center Moriches in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League small schools championship game Monday evening at Diamond in the Pines Park in Coram. The win improved the Wildcats’ summer record to 11-0-1, with all 11 victories coming on shutouts.

“The defense has been playing great all summer,” said Shoreham-Wading River coach Andrew Moschetti, lauding the defensive work of players like Anthony Cusano, Garrett Budney, Travis Qualley, Michael McDonnell and Vincent Alese, along with goaltenders Evan Kearney and Adam Pietrowski, who have split time in the nets.

“The guys in the back, with the two keepers, to only give up two goals all season? That’s a pretty solid defense,” Moschetti added. “They say defense wins championships. So it seems to work.”

The victory pushes Shoreham-Wading River into the overall Brookhaven championship game Wednesday against Sachem North, which defeated Northport, 1-0, in the large schools title game. Wednesday’s game will be at 6:15 p.m. at Diamond in the Pines, and the winner of that game will face the Town of Babylon champion Thursday at St. Joseph’s College.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Matthew O’Gorman of Shoreham-Wading River rose above the crowd for a header.

Moschetti expected the Wildcats to be good this summer, thanks to nine returning varsity starters and 14 seniors — just maybe not along the lines of 31 goals for and only two allowed in 12 games. “I didn’t know what to expect during the summer, but they’ve all been playing great,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for these guys to come up since they were freshmen, and now they’re starting to jell together, and it’s senior year, you know. They’re older now, they know the game, they know each other, and it’s showing on the field.”

Shoreham won the Brookhaven small schools regular-season championship by finishing 8-0-1, the only blemish a 2-2 tie with Mattituck in the third game. That turned out to be the only game in which the Wildcats allowed any goals.

Shoreham-Wading River advanced to the small schools title game with a 2-0 playoff win over Bayport-Blue Point, followed by a 1-0 win over Miller Place in the semifinals. Center Moriches blanked Southold and Eastport/South Manor in its two playoff games by identical 1-0 scores.

The Wildcats dominated possession in Monday’s final against Center Moriches, limiting the opposition to only a handful of chances and even fewer shots that were actually on net.

Shoreham-Wading River opened the scoring with 12 minutes left in the first half when Charles DeMaio scored off a cross from William Mileski. Three minutes later, Greg Canelly fired a direct kick from 25 yards out past Center Moriches keeper Jeff Carpenter, and the Wildcats led at halftime, 2-0.

The second half saw more outstanding defense by the Wildcats. Pietrowski made two solid saves, and Cusano foiled another Center Moriches scoring opportunity by running down an attacker midway through the half.

Moschetti noted that the small schools title is the first won by the Shoreham-Wading River boys in his four seasons coaching the summer team; he won a summer title previously coaching the Shoreham girls. He said while winning is “great,” it’s not what the summer season is about.

“I never really stress winning in the summer,” he said. “It’s more of an opportunity for the kids to keep playing together, for me to see some of the younger kids who didn’t play varsity last year. That’s really the emphasis.”

That said, winning a summer title is a just reward for the hard work the team has put in the past three months.

“It’s a good feeling; the kids are excited,” Moschetti said. “They’ve been playing well, they’ve been training hard in the summer, working their butts off. The seniors have had them running twice a week at the track, kind of knowing that we might have something special here, and they want to be prepared for the [fall] season.”

07/26/12 10:59pm
07/26/2012 10:59 PM

BILL LANDON PHOTO | Brandon Tolliver provided a spark for Riverhead Thursday in the Blue Waves’ summer league playoff win.

There’s one inbounds play Riverhead coach John Rossetti keeps in his back-pocket, the kind of play that can catch an unsuspecting team by surprise with a resounding result.

Not every year, however, does Rossetti have the kind of player who can finish it.

Brandon Tolliver is one of those players.

With the Blue Waves off to a flying start in the second half Thursday night against Patchogue-Medford in a quarterfinal playoff game of the Town of Brookhaven Summer League, Rossetti called the inbounds play. Guard Ryan Bitzer — the team’s best passer — took the ball on the baseline to right of the basket. Tolliver waited up top for his moment, then darted down the middle of the lane. Bitzer threw a perfectly timed pass that Tolliver grabbed with two hands and threw down for an emphatic dunk that wowed the small crowd inside Patchogue-Medford High School.

It capped a 12-2 run for the Blue Waves, who never looked back in a 56-45 victory that improves their summer league record to 7-2-1. They’ll play again Tuesday in the next round of the playoffs.

BILL LANDON PHOTO | Riverhead guard Deon Shorter lays the ball up against Pat-Med Thursday.

“I’ve run that out-of-bounds play for years,” Rossetti said. “This year I have a kid who can finish with it.”

Rossetti said the play works against a zone.

“We flood two areas where the defense has to collapse, which leaves the middle a little bit open and we take a gamble,” he said. “It was a situation in the game where we can take a gamble. It’s not always going to work, but you know how dunks are, they bring a lot of energy to the kids on the court.”

Tolliver can do more than dunk. The versatile forward can contribute in all areas, from inside scoring, to rebounding and defense.

The Blue Waves were looking toward Tolliver to be a key player going into the regular season last year. But an injury derailed his season before it could really get going. He eventually made his way back late in the season, but didn’t have the kind of impact at that point that the Blue Waves knew he could really provide.

Now he’s getting back into form, playing with the Blue Waves in the summer league in addition to AAU ball.

“It’s nice to see Brandon playing like Brandon again,” Rossetti said. “That’s where he was playing last year before his injury. He came back and we might have rushed him a little bit because it was a situation where we needed him.”

Tolliver’s confidence is back in his game, Rossetti said, which only helps everyone else on the court.

“He loosens things up for other kids,” Rossetti said.

Tolliver finished with 13 points for Riverhead Thursday. He also showed off his range from outside, hitting a 3-pointer early in the second half off an assist from Bitzer. The Blue Waves trailed by two going into the second half. Tolliver’s 3-pointer was the 10th straight point Riverhead scored to start the second half as the Blue Waves went ahead 38-30. They never gave up the lead.

Bitzer had a big game for Riverhead as well. Based on his season last year as a junior, it comes as no surprise. He had 10 points to go with several assists and steals.

Rossetti said Bitzer can expect to have a target on his back when the regular season begins in the winter.

“Last year he gained a lot of respect in the county on his game,” he said.

Another returning varsity player who’s helped the Blue Waves this summer has been Markim Austin. He led the Blue Waves with 15 points against the Raiders.

He scored in a variety of ways, including converting two conventional three-point plays. He caught a long outlet pass from Tolliver in transition and scored plus a foul to start the second half. Earlier in the first half he converted on the break after catching a great pass from Bitzer and was fouled for a three-point play.

Rossetti called the trio of Bitzer, Tolliver and Austin a “three-headed monster.”

For a team that won an outbracket playoff game last winter, the future looks bright for the upcoming varsity season.

Rossetti said the players have put in a lot of work in the summer, even as many of them play other sports. Several players arrived at Thursday’s game right after leaving a football mini-camp.

“We came out a little sluggish today,” Rossetti said. “They had to get their football legs out of them and their basketball legs into them.”

joew@timesreview.com

07/24/12 1:36am
07/24/2012 1:36 AM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Southold’s new coach, Joe Read, addressing his team during a summer league game on Monday evening.

The Joe Read experience has hit Southold.

Coaching changes are nothing new for the girls basketball program at Southold High School. For the fourth time in three years, the team has a new coach, but perhaps the First Settlers have never had a coach quite like Read before.

Read follows the recent coaching succession that saw Dennis Reilly, Amanda Barrilo and then Katie Hennes run the First Settlers. In Read, Southold has a coach formed from his own unique mold. The colorful Read, with his wavy white hair, glasses and ever-present smile, brings energy, enthusiasm and his trademark sense of humor to his new post.

“He is a different type of breed,” forward Melissa Rogers said. “He’s totally different than any other coach we have had.”

Read, 56, who coached Bishop McGann-Mercy’s junior varsity team the past five seasons, also has an extensive background coaching football and boys basketball. However, this marks the first time that the Shelter Island resident has been the head coach of a varsity girls basketball team. “I’m the oldest rookie,” he said.

Read has taken over a Southold team that remains largely intact from the one that reached the Southeast Region Class C final last season. With a loss to powerhouse John A. Coleman Catholic in the regional final, Southold fell one win shy of a place in the state semifinals, winding up with a 16-7 record.

Lauren Ficurilli is the only player that the First Settlers lost from that team who saw significant playing time, so the outlook is bright for Southold, which will join forces with Greenport to form a consolidated team and compete as a Class B team this coming winter. “It may be a new coach, but it’s not a new team,” said forward Nicole Busso.

Read likes the players he has to work with, including incoming seniors Sydney Campbell, Carley Staples, Busso and Rogers. Busso playfully dubbed the foursome “The Fab Four.”

“They know each other really well. The only thing I can do is screw it up,” Read said, letting out an infectious laugh.

Rogers said: “He told us he’s in it for the long run, and he really knows his stuff. He’s very verbal and it’s a shock to our team because we had quiet coaches before, really. I think it’s a really good change. … He has so much energy. He can really bring us to that next level.”

Read’s coaching past included time as the head coach of McGann-Mercy’s varsity football and boys basketball teams. Those aware of his background must have done a double take Monday evening at the sight of Reed coaching Southold against McGann-Mercy and the Monarchs coach he used to work with, Jacki Paton, in a Town of Brookhaven Summer League game at Shoreham-Wading River High School.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Abby Scharadin of Southold straining to put a shot over Bishop McGann-Mercy’s Emily St. Louis.

“That was bittersweet,” Read said after Southold’s 25-17 win. “I’ve been at Mercy for a while, so it was hard looking over there at those girls. Most of them played for me last year.”

As a coach, Read brings intensity to the court, and he’s not afraid to think outside the box. One season, as the coach of McGann-Mercy’s boys basketball team, he devised an aggressive, hounding defense that, while not necessarily making for beautiful basketball, made life miserable for opposing teams. After one particularly grueling game that occasionally took on the appearance of a rugby match as McGann-Mercy players hit the floor and tried to wrestle the ball away from the opponent, Read was asked what type of defense he employed. “That’s my own special creation,” he said, rubbing his hands together with a proud grin on his face.

Read said he likes what he has seen from his players this summer. “They’re physically tough, but they’re mentally very tough, too,” he said. “They have a real good court presence. … I think the sky’s the limit with this group, I really do.”

Southold capitalized on 30 turnovers by McGann-Mercy and held a 13-4 advantage on the offensive boards to win Monday night’s game and bring its record to 4-4. Busso was her productive self, scoring 6 of Southold’s first 8 points. She finished with a game-high 12 points. Staples had 8 points (most of them from a pair of 3-point shots), 5 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 assists and 2 blocks.

Southold shot 5 for 9 from the field during a 13-0 run that gave the First Settlers a 16-9 lead early in the second half.

One of Southold’s top players, Rogers, watched the game from the bench in street clothes, with her troublesome right knee bandaged. Last October Rogers injured the knee in a fall league game, spraining a medial collateral ligament. In addition, she said, she has a faulty knee alignment and patellar tendonitis. “It’s painful,” she said.

Rogers said that if she needs to undergo surgery, she hopes to complete her physical therapy in time to be back on the court in November.

“I’m crossing my fingers,” she said. “I’m going to be training in the gym every day, going to [physical therapy] as much as I can and really trying to get in shape and finally have a healthy, no-injury season.”

When a healthy Rogers does return to the court, she will rejoin a team expected to play an up-tempo style and perhaps make another run deep into the postseason.

“It’s going to be really a great team to watch,” Rogers said. “I think we have a lot to offer as a team. Last year was the most unbelievable year I could ever think of with this team. All we want to do is go higher and go to states. No one said we could go as far as we did last year, and we really believed in ourselves and as a long as we do that we can do anything.”

In the meantime, Read has committed to his new basketball home.

“I’ve been around,” he said. “I’m going to stick here.”

bliepa@timesreview.com