Girls Basketball: For Wildcats, a rough ending to a splendid summer

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.”

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