The girls varsity basketball team will host the 8th Annual Lady Vikings Tip-Off Tournament this Friday and Saturday at Schreiber High School. The tournament, sponsored by the AAPW and Schreibers' athletic department, will boast three quality teams, including the Lady Vikings. Last year's champion Levittown Division will play county semifinalist Cold Spring Harbor in the 5 p.m. game on Friday, while the Lady Vikings take on Sewanhaka at 7 p.m.
The Lady Vikings, coached by 15-year coach Stephanie Joannon, will have a different look this year. With only five returning players, the team adds seven new players wearing the blue and white. The always competitive varsity team has its work cut out for it, but Coach Joannon only sees the positive. "People can look at our team and label it as a rebuilding year. I look upon it as a reloading to the talent that we have." The team is captained by seniors Lauren Bracchi and Sue Graser and three-year player junior Emilie Kirkpatrick. Says Joannon, "Our captains have set the tone of hard work and unselfishness, while showing the new players the fun and excitement that playing on this level can be."
With no player over 5'8", the team has its work cut out for it. The team's strength does lie in its guard play and will rely on strong pressure defense and quick transition play. Junior starter Lauren Greene will be looked upon to set the pace on the defensive end and start the transition game. The final returner from last year's squad, Nina Buitrago, will anchor the small forward spot and will be looked upon for inside scoring. Coach Joannon describes the players on the team as "coming in with great attitudes and a strong desire to learn and get better." Inside players, sophomores Rikki Levy and Erin Cohen, have played very strongly in the preseason scrimmages and give the team much-needed inside defense and rebounding. Wing players Junior Margaret Garofalo and Nina Mandel and sophomores Stephanie Castillo and Karen Hansen have shown sharpshooting and outside defense that have made the team more versatile. Eighth-grader Sarah Walsh, whose skills will open up Port's perimeter game, rounds out the team and brings point guard skills, shooting and good court sense.
The Lady Vikings preseason is competitive. The Lady Vikings' tournament boasts quality teams that will prepare the team for the Conference I schedule ahead of them this season. In the preseason scrimmages, the team has played very well against some top teams such as Wantagh and Baldwin and should be game ready by Friday. Says Joannon, "Our expectations are always set high and so far the girls have learned what is expected at this level. We have good players and outstanding people on the team. I think we will be exciting to watch."
Come see the Lady Vikings Tip-Off Tournament this weekend. Admission is free for both days. The tournament continues on Saturday with afternoon games. The consolation game is at noon and the champions' game is at 2 p.m. See you there!