Girls Basketball: Defense always a constant for SWR

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior Meghan King scored 17 points against Westhampton Monday in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League.

A team’s offense rarely looks like a thing of beauty during the summer league. With many players just getting back into the flow for the first time since the end of winter, there’s little time to develop much continuity on the offensive end.

But defense is another story. Athleticism and effort can go a long way.

The Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats have been known in recent years as a team that loves to pressure its opponent with an athletic group of players who can all run the floor. It’s a philosophy they’ve carried over into the Town of Brookhaven Summer League, where through six games the Wildcats are unbeaten and making it difficult for teams to crack double-digits against them.

“Defense has been the key,” said Shoreham coach Dennis Haughney. “We have a lot of athletes and we’re pushing the ball and the games have been a lot of steals and layups.”

Westhampton posted a summer-league high against Shoreham Monday night at Patchogue-Medford High School, a game the Wildcats won 32-20. Shoreham hadn’t allowed more than 12 in a game, but the Wildcats had only five players available Monday. That shrunk to four players after Meghan King, who led all scorers with 17 points, landed awkwardly after scoring on a fastbreak layup and injured her left ankle with just over six minutes left. Playing with an extra player, the Hurricanes ended the game on a 9-0 run.

King, an all-league player last season, epitomized the Wildcats’ defensive effort. She consistently scored on the break, often after she stole the ball. She scored twice in the final minute of the first half after converting layups off a steal.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior Alex Fehmel scored six points against Westhampton.

“She’s really just a team player,” Haughney said. “If she has to take over, she’ll take over. It’s not really her way but she does have some different abilities where she can take over.”

The first concern that popped into King’s head after the injury was an upcoming showcase tournament in Washington D.C. that she was set to play in.

“That’s the first thing she said to me — ‘I have a big tournament this weekend,’ ” Haughney said.

The severity of the injury was unclear after the game, but she was carried out of the gym to avoid putting any pressure on the ankle.

The Wildcats were also without point guard Courtney Clasen, the League VI Rookie of the Year last winter as a freshman. Already a little taller and stronger, Clasen has had an impressive summer on the court thus far. She sat out Monday’s game with a swollen knee.

Haughney said she’s been a key player on both ends of the floor.

“Life’s pretty easy when you have Courtney just splitting everyone and handing the ball off to different people for open shots,” he said. “She’s getting better and better.”

Haughney said Clasen has even been rebounding more. And while she’s a pass-first guard, she score when necessary as well.

“You can’t teach quickness and speed,” Haughney said. “She’s got a great feel for the game. Even though she’s going fast, everything’s going real slow for her out there.”

Shannon Rosati, who will be going into her junior year, adds another super-quick, athletic guard in the backcourt for the Wildcats. Rosati missed Monday’s game, but will be a key player for the Wildcats during the varsity season.

Rosati was an all-league player last season in addition to Taylor Whiffen. The Wildcats return all but one player from last year’s team that lost in the Class A semifinals.

Senior Alex Fehmel scored six points against Westhampton. A returning varsity player, Fehmel is another athletic guard/forward who does all the little things on the court. Fehmel could vie for a starting role on the varsity team. Haughney said there are several players who could all potentially end up starting in the winter.

With so many players back off last year’s team, there haven’t been many new faces in the summer league. The Wildcats had two newcomers Monday in Amanda Smith and Jayne Hoffman. Smith scored eight points, all in the post.

The Wildcats were without most of their guards Monday, so most of the ball-handling duties fell to King, Whiffen and Fehmel. It made life more difficult on the offensive end, but even in a hot gym with no subs available, the defensive effort never wavered.

“We know that if we work really hard defensively, we’re going to be in any game,” Haughney said.

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