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St. Aloysius Tigers Claw Their Way to “A” League CYO Playoffs

For the first time in recent memory, Great Neck will be sending a girls basketball team to the “A” League CYO playoffs.

The St. Aloysius Tigers, comprised of 7th-grade girls from Great Neck schools, finished the 2011-12 season on Jan. 7 with 6 wins, qualifying for the playoffs, which begin the weekend of Jan. 20. The Tigers made the leap to A League just this season and quickly made their presence felt, competing against the best competition in Nassau County.

The St. Al’s girls were led all season by a terrific front line anchored by Dalaisja Chunn, Caroline O’Byrne and Jada Thorne. The Tigers dominated opposing defenses all season, with the immensely talented Chunn – known as “Dee” — serving as the focal “point forward,” often finding Thorne inside for lay-ups and O’Byrne outside for jumpers. Forwards Shaminta Hamidian, Rachel Linden and Leila Shirian helped lead the charge on the Tigers’ potent front line.

The Tigers’ defense gave their opponents fits all season, three times holding the opposing team to 22 points or less – on average, less than three baskets each quarter. The swarm featured a rotation of chasing guards including Taylor Kaplan, Leah Klempner and Ella Rastegar, with Laura Bokser, Cate Hakimian, Romi Sofi and Erica Sosman likewise pestering the opposition and leading the offensive surge.

The Tigers’ strong showing in just its first A League season is especially impressive considering that the St. Aloysius girls’ program is only three years old. Long-time dedicated coaches John Sobolewski and Alan Golus resurrected the program in 2009 with the team that is currently the Tigers, first starting in the C League, then advancing to the B League in 2010 and making the leap to the A League for 2011. St. Al’s had last fielded girls’ travel basketball teams in the mid-1990s. The program has since grown to now feature two girls’ travel teams in each of the 5th, 6th and 7th grades.

The Tigers anxiously await the opportunity to represent St. Al’s and Great Neck when playoffs begin the weekend of January 20.