The start to a new high school girls basketball season isn’t always as easy as making a layup. Then again, sinking a layup isn’t always as easy as it should be.
Shoreham-Wading River can testify to that. The Wildcats missed a multitude of layups and had difficulty finishing Saturday in a 43-38 season-opening loss to visiting Pierson/Bridgehampton, a Suffolk County Class C finalist last season.
“We missed way too many layups,” said Shoreham coach Adam Lievre.
Shoreham shot 25.9 percent (15 of 58) from the field, including one particularly rough third-quarter stretch when it shot 4 of 20.
“That’s a lot” of missed shots, said Shoreham guard Erin Triandafils.
Two Pierson players, Celia Barranco and Chastin Giles, made a significant impact on the non-league game.
Barranco, a junior forward, was a tremendous post presence, supplying the Whalers with 19 points, 12 rebounds and three steals. “That was the best game I’ve ever seen her play,” said coach Kevin Barron.
Giles, a sophomore guard who played for Bishop McGann-Mercy last season, turned in a well-rounded performance with seven points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals.
“She looked great,” Barron said. “I said to her at the beginning of the season she’s going to make her teammates a lot better because she has the ability to pass … Her vision on the court is excellent.”
It was easy to see what Shoreham’s primary problem was: putting the ball in the basket. The Wildcats had good looks.
“A lot of people missed a handful of easy shots in and around the basket,” Lievre said. “I just kept looking at the board, saying: ‘We’re only up two. It should be eight or it should be 10.’ We got the ball to the right spot. We just didn’t knock them down.”
Shoreham didn’t score a point for about the final five minutes of the game. A Triandafils bank shot gave the Wildcats a 38-35 lead before Pierson closed the game on an 8-0 burst through a pair of Barranco free throws, a Carly Browgardt layup, a three-pointer from the corner by Katie Kneeland and a Sophia Bitis free throw.
Mikayla Dwyer was Shoreham’s top scorer with nine points. Triandafils had eight points and 10 rebounds. Michele Corona scored seven points.
Shoreham received an uplifting performance from sophomore Abby Korzekwinski, who started in her varsity debut. The slender 5-10 guard looks the part of a basketball player and has a game to match. Because of her length and ballhandling ability, she could cause mismatches for opponents. She put up six points, eight rebounds, three steals, two assists and one block in addition to playing tough defense.
“She looked comfortable out there,” Lievre said. “She was frustrated when things didn’t go right, which is what you want to see. We’re going to rely on her to probably be one of our leading scorers, I would think, throughout the year.”
Last season Korzekwinski played for the junior varsity team. The jump to the varsity level is an adjustment, though, sometimes one that some players cannot make.
“Throughout my years we’ve had a lot of good JV players, but it doesn’t necessarily translate to the speed at the varsity level,” Lievre said. “Sometimes you can tell that, sometimes you can’t and sometimes the kids just never adjust to the speed of the game. For Game One, if that’s the performance we’re going to get [from Korzekwinski] for the rest of the season, I’ll be very happy.”
So, what was Korzekwinski’s first varsity experience like?
“It was a little nerve-racking at first, but I got used to it,” she said.
How did she feel about how she played?
“I could have hit some more shots and made some more layups,” she said.
If that was the case, she had company. It might be understandable, though. It was also the first varsity game for Shoreham’s Julia DeGolyer, Erin Malone, Kaityln Cassidy, Brianna Arabio and Sam Rassner.
To further illustrate the turnover Shoreham has undergone, consider that Hayden Lachenmeyer played sporadically last season, Melissa Marchese was brought up from the JV team for the playoffs and Bella Meli is being asked to play a bigger role this season.
“Erin and Mikayla are really the only veterans that have a lot of varsity experience behind them,” said Lievre.
Now that the season-opener is in the books, Shoreham has 19 more regular-season games left.
“It’s Game One,” Lievre said. “It’s a long season.”
Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River sophomore guard Abby Korzekwinski started in her varsity debut and made a positive impression on coach Adam Lievre. (Credit: Garret Meade)