Girls Basketball Preview: SWR returns experienced core

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior Meghan King drives to the basket amid a crowd of defenders in a game last season.

After losing only one senior from last year’s playoff team, the Shoreham-Wading River girls basketball team returns an experienced core that’s primed to make another run into the postseason.

“We definitely want to try to get to the counties,” said Shoreham coach Dennis Haughney. “We’ve been to the semifinals and the next step is to try to get to the counties.”

Last season ended with a blowout loss against a talented John Glenn team in the Class A semifinals. With the Knights having lost their top player from a year ago in Allison McKenna, the Wildcats hope this year provides a window to emerge as one of the top teams in the county.

To prepare for the league season the Wildcats have played a difficult non-league schedule that resulted in three losses to open the season. They broke through Tuesday with a 51-38 win over Comsewogue.

The Wildcats feature a deep team in which any number of players can lead in scoring on a given night. Senior forward Meghan King has done so twice so far this season, including an 18-point effort against the Warriors.

King came up to varsity during the playoffs as a freshman and has been with the team ever since, quickly developing into a key scorer and rebounder.

Sophomore Courtney Clasen returns at guard for the Wildcats after winning the league rookie of the year award last season. Haughney said Clasen has a chance to contribute in more areas on the court after growing during the offseason.

“She’s a pretty good rebounder,” he said, while adding that she has good versatility on defense. “I think all-around she’s an incredible athlete. I think she’ll just get better every year.”

Junior forward Taylor Whiffen gives the Wildcats another scoring threat. She scored 13 to lead the team in the season-opener against Kings Park. Junior Shannon Rosati is an athletic guard who can create havoc on both ends of the court. She’s going into her third year on varsity and was all-league last season.

Seniors Sabrina Santiago, Cari Gostic and Alex Fehmel are all returning varsity players along with junior Kerri Clark.

“I think we’re pretty interchangeable,” Haughney said. “We can move girls around. Girls can play different positions.”

Defense will be key for the Wildcats.

“We pressure everything,” Haughney said. “We want to contest every shot regardless of what type of defense we’re in.”

The Wildcats won’t be full-court pressing as much, but will still try to force turnovers with half-court traps.

A big key, Haughney said, will be making sure players stay out of foul trouble while playing aggressive defense.

“We have a tendency to be a little overaggressive,” he said.

The Wildcats tip off the league season Friday at home against Amityville.

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