After a promising season a year ago, girls varsity basketball coach Denise Zunno returns an exciting, talented and basketball hungry roster as the Lady Mustangs seek to improve on last year's third place finish in Conference V. Using depth to their advantage, the team advances to Conference IV with the likes of Oyster Bay against veteran squads from Carle Place and Wheatley. Tougher competition may create some bumps along the way but this year's experienced players are focused on making the playoffs.
Junior co-captain Samantha Stavish, an All-Division selection last year, enters her third year as a varsity starter at point guard and is the undeniable leader. Stavish's speed as a defender along with solid court vision complements her 10 points per game to the scoring column.
Sophomores Heather Gessner and Kalie Medlock handle the baseline in their second season as Varsity performers. Medlock must assume the mantle of her graduated All-Conference sister as the rebounding force (averaging 9 per game) while Gessner looks to duplicate her own brother's legacy with basketball intelligence and finesse as one of the team's better shooters. Classmate Christine Barry fills the middle as the shot blocking threat that every defensive minded unit must have.
The heart and soul of the Lady hoopsters is their three seniors. Co-captain Maryann Sanderleaf comes off the bench after a year's recuperation from a horrific ACL tear. As a 3-point sharpshooter, Sanderleaf's minutes will be vital. Fellow seniors Gail Jakubek and Jill Wetzel will be role players but their leadership ability cannot be understated. The three will set the tone when it comes to work ethic and determination whether in practice or game situations.
The junior class forms the nucleus critical to a successful rotation for a complete team. Leandra Falotico, Michelle Morrison and Michelle Zubarrain come to the varsity after an undefeated JV campaign. Falotico will fill the tin from the baseline, "Z" is the instant offense on the perimeter and Morrison will spell Stavish with an innate ability to split defenders and deliver a dime. Sophomore Krystie Kern sees starter's minutes with hustle, energy and intensity during clutch situations.
Zunno's biggest problem is spreading time amongst experienced seniors and talented underclasswomen. This should make the conference transition a smooth one to navigate.The Lady Mustangs used a 3-1 non-conference schedule to build conference and tune up for some early season conference tilts that went down to the wire and even into overtime. While there may be some tight losses until the team finds its rhythm, Zunno can build on the solid results of last season to propel this group to better days ahead.
The Lady Mustangs will be taking on Valley Stream South on Feb. 3 at Valley Stream South at 7:45 p.m. and then return home to Mineola High School on Feb. 6 to take on Wheatley at 6:45 p.m.