Sports, much like everyday life, is full of unexpected surprises. The bounce of a ball or a play call can affect the outcome of a game in your favor or just as likely cost your team a win. Even more serious can be the occurrence of an injury or illness to a player or coach. Such are the circumstances with the 2004-2005 Mineola High School girl's varsity basketball team.
With the unexpected and serious news that Coach Denise Zunno would be out for the remainder of the season due to illness, the Lady Mustangs faced their season in need of a coach ready, willing and able to hit the ground running. Luckily for the Lady Mustangs they found two coaches, Mr. Joyce and Ms. Savignavo, ready to take the reins.
Having had only 10 days to play and familiarize themselves with each other, it was no mystery what the Lady Mustangs needed to do to have a shot at a successful season - significantly reduce their number of turnovers from last year, hit their shots in the paint, and play tough defense. Led by Senior Captain Jess Napolitano and seniors Liz Sanderleaf, Caitlin Orlando and Courtney Barry, here's how they fared:
Opening up the non-league portion of the season at home against Division HS, the Lady Mustangs' offense had trouble finding its rhythm. Committing 14 turnovers in the first half, and hitting only 2 of 8 free throws, Mineola allowed Levittown to hold an eight point lead into the half 24-16.
In the second half, the Lady Mustangs' defense disappeared, allowing Division to score 30 points (14 from the free throw line) in a forgettable 54-36 loss. Samantha Hegmann led Mineola's offense with 11 points, followed by Caitlin Orlando with 7 and Lauren Napolitano with 4 in a losing effort.
Looking to bounce back from their opening loss against Division, the Lady Mustangs hosted Lynbrook HS. Opening the game on fire, the teams traded baskets to close the quarter tied 15-15.
In the second quarter, the Lady Mustangs' defense disappeared again as Lynbrook would score 20 points to take a 35-28 lead into the half. Opening the second half, Lynbrook took their offensive game outside the paint as they built their lead to 47-36 at the end of the third quarter. The fourth quarter would see no let up from Lynbrook as they would win, going away 62-46.
With 18 turnovers, and a paper thin defense in the second half, the Lady Mustangs made it very difficult on themselves to compete. Sam Hegmann led Mineola's offense with 17 points, followed by Caitlin Orlando with 11 and Gigi Alas with 8 points in a losing effort.
With their non-league record now at 0-2, the Lady Mustangs hosted Oceanside HS. With their defense pressing from the outset, Mineola set the tone for a low scoring affair as they took a 16-15 lead into halftime.
Having scored only 15 points in the first half, Mineola's offense would go into hiding in the second half, scoring only six points in the third and seven points in the fourth quarter. Conversely, Oceanside's offense opened up and scored 29 second half points to win 44-29. Sam Hegmann led Mineola's offense with 15 points, followed by Christine Medlock with 8 points and Roseanne Mercurio with 4 points.
Looking to start fresh in the league portion of their schedule, the Lady Mustangs traveled to Clarke HS. Opening up the first quarter, the teams played tight defense and traded baskets, with Clarke leading 13-11 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the teams once again played tight defense and traded baskets, this time to finish the first half tied 20-20. Opening the third quarter, the Lady Mustangs played their best offensive quarter of the game to take a 35-29 lead. The fourth quarter saw Mineola give their lead back to Clarke in an action packed quarter as the game ended in a tie 45-45.
Opening the first overtime period, each team traded baskets as a tension filled period once again came to a close tied 50-50. In the second overtime, with each team in the bonus, Lauren Napolitano hit three of her four free throws to put Mineola in the lead for good as they would earn their first league win, 57-52. Christine Medlock led Mineola's offense with a season high 20 points, followed by Samantha Hegmann with 17 and Caitlin Orlando with 10 points.
Coming back from a two-week break in their schedule for the holidays, the Lady Mustangs hosted Manhasset HS. From the opening tip off, the Lady Mustangs were in trouble as their offense remained in the starting blocks allowing Manhasset to jump to a 16-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
While Mineola's offense would finally get started in the second quarter hitting 3 three pointers, so did Manhasset's fast break offense, as they increased their lead at halftime 34-17. Manhasset opened the third quarter with a 9-3 run to maintain their 17-point lead, 45-24 at the close of the third quarter. The fourth quarter saw Mineola's defense go into hiding as Manhasset scored 23 points to win going away, 68-39. Sam Hegmann led Mineola's offense with 14 points, followed by Christine Medlock with 8 and Caitlin Orlando with 5 points in a losing effort.
With their league record at 1-1, the Lady Mustangs traveled to Roosevelt HS. In a defensive battle from the opening tip off, and with each team scoring less than 10 points in any one quarter, Roosevelt held a slim 16-14 lead at the half. Opening the third period, the Lady Mustangs' offense once again went into hiding as they would score only three points and allow Roosevelt to take a 29-17 lead at the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter saw Mineola's offense open up, firing on all cylinders, as they would go on a 13-3 run, culminated by Gigi Alas' layup, to pull even 35-35 at the end of regulation and force an overtime period. In the overtime period, freshman Jamie Medlock would score four of her season high 7 points, but that would not be enough, as Roosevelt outscored Mineola 9-6 and win in overtime 44-41. Sam Hegmann led Mineola's offense with 12 points, followed by Caitlin Orlando with 9 points and Christine Medlock and Jaime Medlock with 7 points each in a losing effort.
With their league record at 1-2, the Lady Mustangs traveled to Seaford to face the Lady Vikings. From the opening tip off the Lady Mustangs played from behind as their offensive would score only 8 points in the first quarter. Seaford missed taking advantage of Mineola's early foul trouble by hitting only 6 of 12 attempts to move out to a manageable 14-8 lead. Mineola's offense fared no better in the second quarter as they were outscored 11-6, allowing Seaford to take a 25-14 lead at the half.
The second half opened with the Lady Mustangs clicking offensively. However, their continued woes with fouls sent Seaford to the line ten times in the second half with which they scored 13 second half points to hold the Lady Mustangs at bay in a 53-40 win. Sam Hegmann and Caitlin Orlando led Mineola's offense with 8 points each, followed by Christine Medlock's 6 points, and Liz Sanderleaf and Gigi Alas with 5 points each in a losing effort.
With their league record at 1-3, the Lady Mustangs face an uphill battle to position themselves for a playoff position. While they have played two teams into overtime, they continue to struggle offensively and allow big numbers from their opponent's backcourt. With the heart of their league schedule coming up, the Lady Mustangs will need to elevate their game to the next level if they are to have any chance to make the playoffs.
The Lady Mustang team is comprised of Jess Napolitano, Caitlin Orlando, Liz Sanderleaf, Courtney Barry, Gigi Alas, Christine Medlock, Jamie Medlock, Lauren Napolitano, Roseanne Mercurio, Sam Hegmann, and Marisa Jetter.