Usually as the second week of practices wind down and the games are set to begin, Shoreham-Wading River coach Dennis Haughney has a firm grasp on which players will form the starting lineup.
This year? Take your pick.
“I have like seven or eight girls I could put in the first group,” Haughney said after practice Monday. “I told them we might be rotating starters. I think it’s going to depend on what’s happening during the season, how people are playing and who’s healthy.”
It’s an intriguing problem for the Wildcats, who field a deep team with players who can all bring something different to the court.
Much of the early part of the season will center around seeing which players mesh together best.
“I feel like we have a deep and strong group,” Haughney said.
The Wildcats feature only two seniors, center Chelsea Hughes and Alyssa Fleming, a versatile athlete who can play any position on the court. Hughes will anchor the Wildcats in the post and provide the rebounding on blocked shots on defense.
Junior guard/forward Meghan King is the only returning starter for Shoreham. Last year she was the League VI Rookie of the Year.
Sophomore Taylor Whiffen provides a post presence for the Wildcats and Cari Gostic will likely start the season at point guard. Sophomore Shannon Rosati plays shooting guard and is a strong defensive player who can force turnovers and send the Wildcats on the break.
Freshman Courtney Clasen will also see time at point guard. Haughney said Clasen is quick and has done a good job picking up everything so far while just a freshman.
The Wildcats got an addition with a transfer student from Chicago, junior Sabrina Santiago. She’ll also play guard and gives the Wildcats an outside threat.
“She really understands the game well,” Haughney said. “I think she’ll help us out.”
Juniors Alex Fehmel and Jessica Angerman are both forwards who can contribute off the bench.
Haughney said the key will be for all the girls to complement each other with what they do well.
“I would like to play an up-pace game so that means more girls involved, which is good,” Haughney said.
The Wildcats got their first game action in a scrimmage Saturday against Riverhead, which should be one of the top teams in Class AA this year.
Haughney said the scrimmage gave the team a chance to work on a lot of different things.
“We saw a 1-3-1 [zone defense], a half-court trap which John Glenn does a little bit of, they put a lot of pressure on full-court man, so we got an opportunity to go against that,” he said.
One area they felt they need to focus on after the scrimmage was boxing out, Haughney said.
“A team like that is very athletic,” he said. “You can’t just use your size. A couple of those girls from Riverhead were getting over our big girls and jumping right over them.”
The Wildcats will play in League VI again this season, where the top competition remains John Glenn and Amityville.
Haughney said he expects every team in the league to be improved from last year.
“We’re not the most experienced team so we’re going to have to really develop as the season goes on,” he said.
The Wildcats will be aiming for their sixth straight trip to the postseason. Last season ended in the semifinals of Class A with a loss against Glenn.
Shoreham opens the non-league season Thursday against Walt Whitman. The first league game is Dec. 16 against Amityville.