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The girls varsity basketball team put their experience to the test as they host the ninth annual Lady Vikings Tip-Off Tournament beginning this Friday.

The 1998-99 Lady Vikings Basketball team. Front row (l. to r.) Karen Hansen, Lauren Greene, Margaret Garofalo; Middle: Emilie Kirkpatrick, Stephanie Castillo, Sarah Walsh, Kim Greene; Back row:Coach Joannon, Nina Buitrago, Erin Cohen, Elaine Yepez, Chantelle McCurty.

The team, coached by Stephanie Joannon, boasts eight returnees and three new players and are hoping to build upon last year's 13-5 season. Leading the team will be its top returnees in all statistical categories. Freshman point guard Sarah Walsh, who had a great rookie season as an eighth grade starter, will be guiding the offense. "In a program that has been traditionally rich in our point guard play, Sarah is one of the best," says Coach Joannon. "She brings great court sense, sees the options and is a strong offensive threat whether it be on her assists, steals or point production."

Senior Lauren Greene returns at the two guard spot and is looking to build on the all-star season she had last year. "Lauren is our defensive specialist whose quickness is second to none in the league," says Joannon. "She has gained tremendous confidence in her offense and will be on the end of alot of Walsh passes." Lauren can hit the three pointers as well as short jumper.

Playing in her fifth year of Lady Vikings basketball is senior All-County player Emilie Kirkpatrick. This year Emilie will play the 3 or 5 spot on the team. The always hard working team leader who has given the Lady Vikings program some heroics over the years has developed her inside game to complement her outside shooting to become an all around player. "Emilie is the heart and soul of our team."

The Lady Vikings will round out the starting line-up with new players and develop the other players and important role players. The team will reach to returnees, Erin Cohen and Nina Buitrago, who play forwards and will provide the defense the team needs under the boards. The returning guards are senior Margaret Garofalo, juniors Karen Hansen and Stephanie Castillo. They will be looked upon to increase their time from role players to major contributors to the team. Port's new players to the varsity junior forwards Elaine Yepez and Chantelle McCurty and guard Kim Greene. Coach Joannon comments, "This is a good year for these three to come onto the team. They have great players to look up to since our team has alot of veterans and there is an opportunity to see playing time."

The Lady Vikings open up the tournament tomorrow night at 7 p.m. against last year's champions Levittown Division. As always, the tournament is made up of four quality teams. Rounding out the Friday night game will be #4 ranked Syosset from Conference 1 and #3 ranked Sewanhaka from Conference 3. The consolation game will be played Saturday afternoon at noon and the championship game will follow at 2 p.m. Admission is free so please come and support the Lady Vikings as they begin their season.

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