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Posted: Friday, August 06, 2010 Hoops remains popular sport for girls at SWR Newest group looks to keep tradition alive

Posted Sunday, August 08, 2010 by Dennis Haughney

Posted: Friday, August 06, 2010

Hoops remains popular sport for girls at SWR

Newest group looks to keep tradition alive

BY JOE WERKMEISTER | SPORTS EDITOR

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO Michelle Gostic led Shoreham-Wading River with 14 points in Monday's playoff win over Southold.

For a school with a rich history in track and field, coupled with the surging popularity of lacrosse, it may seem a sport like basketball could begin slipping through the cracks. During a time when many girls could rest up for their spring sport or casually run track to stay in shape, interest in the basketball court remains high.

And over the past several years at Shoreham-Wading River, as one roster turns over to another, the Wildcats have maintained a consistent playoff-caliber team, always one of the best in their league.

"I think it's that we just have a lot of good girl athletes," said Shoreham coach Dennis Haughney. "Basketball lends itself to being a pretty athletic game."

To remain successful the Wildcats rely heavily on girls who play multiple sports. For Haughney, it hasn't been too difficult keeping them interested in basketball.

After losing several key players from last year's playoff team, the Wildcats came into the Town of Brookhaven Summer League with a mostly young roster. The results show that once again there's little dropoff in the level of play.

The Wildcats rolled over Southold Monday night in the first round of the playoffs, 43-8, at Centereach High School to improve to 9-1 during the summer. They entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed and league champions. Southold was the ninth team in the standings, but the eighth team, McGann-Mercy, could not field a team Monday, allowing Southold to take its place. After the win the Wildcats' summer season came to an end Wednesday against Miller Place.

Haughney said he feels like with so many girls playing lacrosse at Shoreham it's helped the basketball program.

"The two games are pretty similar," he said. "It's a lot of moving without the ball, a lot of rules in defense are the same. It's constant moving up and down, transition, passing. All those little things kind of help."

In many ways, lacrosse -- a sport where scholarships are far more abundant for girls in this area -- can be a perfect tune-up in the winter.

While many girls play multiple sports at Shoreham, their commitment to basketball has been steadfast. In the summer league Haughney said his group played hard every game, always getting after it defensively.

On offense the Wildcats move the ball efficiently in pursuit of the open player. Haughney said all the players have a selfless style of play, which makes it easy for him as a coach.

"They'll give up the ball for the easier basket, but then again they're not afraid to take it hard to the hole," he said.

The Wildcats got a game-high 14 points from Michelle Gostic against Southold. She was the only player in double figures. She scored seven of the Wildcats' first eight points. She converted a three-point play after being fouled on a fast break as the Wildcats raced out to an 8-0 lead.

They led 11-0 before Megan VanGordan connected on a 3-pointer for Southold. But the Wildcats dominated from that point on, scoring the next 32 points to ahead by 40.

Chelsea Hughes scored six points for Shoreham and Meghan King added five. Taylor Whiffen and Shannon Rosati each scored four.

Hughes, who's going into her junior year, gives the Wildcats size in the middle. She made her presence felt defensively with blocked shots and was also hard to contain on the glass.

"She's just so long and big that it helps all the other girls out, too," Haughney said.

The second unit for Shoreham started the second half against Southold and did an excellent job at extending the lead. Cari Gostic opened the half with a 3-pointer as the Wildcats scored seven quick points to start the half. Rosati sank a jump shot, then stole the ball a minute later and converted while being fouled.

Haughney said he expects Rosati to have a bright future. The first time he saw her play during a junior high game, she scored the game's first 13 points.

"She's really athletic," he said. "If you needed to cover one of [the other team's] best players, she'll get up and pretty much not let her catch it."

Looking ahead to the winter season the Wildcats can also bank on the return of Corinne Wiederkehr, whose season was cut short last season by an ACL injury.

"If Corinne's healthy, we have a good group of five," Haughney said.

joew@northshoresun.com

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