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Girls Hoops Preview 2022-2023

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By Tony Pinciaro
Perhaps the top player in Section 1 in 2022 23 Putnam Valleys Rhode Island bound senior Eva DeChent has unfinished business to settle

Walter Panas had a memorable 2021-22 varsity girls’ basketball season, but it was the Panthers’ final game that left them wanting more. The Panthers reached the Section 1 Class A final where they met an experienced Tappan Zee team, who took advantage of the young Panthers in the first half.

“We were so nervous at the beginning of the game,” said senior and captain Kelsey Cregan. “In that first half, we didn’t play like we normally do.”

As a result, Tappan Zee established a double-digit lead in the first 16 minutes en route to the title.

“We now know what it takes to get there and we also know how we didn’t want it to go,” said Cregan of the sectional final result. “With the majority of our team returning, we’ve been working hard all offseason so that we can change the way our season ends.”

Cregan headlines an experienced group of nine returnees from a 20-4 team. Cregan, an all-league and all-conference selection last year, is joined by classmates Julia Gallinger, Sarah Chiulli and Kara Mattson.

The remaining five are sophomores who all played significant time last year, highlighted by guards Cadence Nicholas (all-league and all-section last year) and Sofia Tavarez (all-league and all-conference last year). Jillian Cinquina, Kiara Williams and Katie Hofmann complete the super sophomores.

The returning core and prospective new varsity players began preparation for the 2022-23 season in earnest at the onset of summer.

“We started doing workouts in the weight room, ran and got into the gym at least two times a week,” Cregan explained. “It was optional, but a lot of our team showed up and worked hard. And it continued into the fall.”

The additional off-season work enabled the Panthers to be ahead of schedule when the first day of practice arrived.

“We didn’t need to go over drills in the same amount of time as we did last year because of all the work we did in the offseason,” Cregan said. “Also, with alot of our team returning, we all have the knowledge from last year. We are helping the new players and this has allowed us to add new plays and expand our skill set.

“What I’ve seen through preseason is that everyone worked on their game, individually, and everyone has improved so much from last year whether it was their skill set or confidence.”

Panas Coach Matt Evangelista, in his 12th season, has made sure his team will be prepared to play every game. Evangelista has stacked the schedule with the elite of Section 1 across Class AA, Class A and Class B.

“I made our schedule tough to challenge ourselves,” Evangelista said. “We are playing Scarsdale, Tappan Zee, Harrison, Ardsley, Pelham, Brewster, Putnam Valley (in the Slam Dunk Showcase) and Albertus Magnus. Our league games with Lakeland and Hen Hud are always challenging and entertaining.

“We want to build off of the success of last season. Our goal is to try to make the Final Four (County Center hopefully), see if we can be playing our best basketball and try to win the Section. Class A is very deep with a lot of quality teams.”

Cregan and her teammates are up to the challenge.

“The fact that coach wanted to challenge us shows we are all on the same page,” Cregan said. “It will be more of an accomplishment to get to our final goal by playing and hopefully beating the good teams.”

Panas opens the season, 12/8, against Edgemont. The Panthers will then play in the Somers Tournament with Mahopac, Ossining and the Tuskers.

BREWSTER BEARS

Coach: Mike Castaldo (11th year)

2021-22 record: 16-4.

2021-22 Sectional result: Lost to Pearl River in the first round.

Graduated seniors from the 2021-22 team: 3.

Top returnees: seniors Madison Dakin; Margo Cunningham, juniors Jordan Niles, Jr., Bri Franklin, Jr., Bre Washington, Sr.

Key newcomers: Kiara Rodriguez, Jr., Olivia Francis, So., Lauren Leon, 8th-grader.

Coach’s outlook on the season: I’m really looking forward to see who is going to step up and lead us. We need to rebound and we need to defend with a purpose. The seniors really need to step up and lead us this year. We are a new team with a new identity. We are going to rely on the seniors, heavily.

Noteworthy: 2022 graduate Grace Galgano is the only Brewster girls’ basketball player with 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. She is playing for Roberts Wesleyan and was recently named the East Coast Conference Rookie of the Week.

BRIARCLIFF BEARS

Coach: Denise Hamlin (second year, 37th overall)

2021-22 record: 14-8

2022 Section results: Lost to Irvington in a Class B second-round game.

Graduated seniors from 2021-22 team, including starters: Three.

League favorite: Westlake.

Section favorite: Putnam Valley, Irvington.

Top returnees: Cat Carrafiello, Sr., 5-7, SG (2021-22: All-Section, All-League); Caroline Barbalato, Sr., 5-3, PG (2021-22: All-Section, All-League); Adriana Scanga, Jr., 5-8, F; Nico Vargish, Jr., 5-8, F; Ava Makaron, So., 5-6, G; Fatihah Islam, Sr., 5-7, F.

Key newcomers: Riley Hite, Sr., 5-5, G; Ava Swidler, Sr., 5-3, G; Jayna Borelli, Jr., 5-6, G; Kristen Friedel, So., 5-5, G; Gemma Fante, Fr., 5-4, G; Lila Dumas, Fr., 5-5, F.

Team strength: Team chemistry.

Question marks: How to replace senior captain Dylan Zednik, who will miss the season because of a severe injury?

Coach’s outlook on the season: My goal is to get the girls to play at their best, continue to grow together as a team and have fun.

Noteworthy: Briarcliff opens the season, 12/8, hosting its annual Briarcliff Boys and Girls Tournament. … Prior to becoming the varsity coach, Hamlin was the Briarcliff JV coach for 20 years.

BYRAM HILLS BOBCATS

Coach: Tara Ryan (sixth year, 10th overall)

2021-22 record: 11-9

2022 Sectional results: Lost in the Class A Quarterfinal round.

League favorite: Ardsley, Byram Hills.

Section favorite: Putnam Valley, Hastings.

Graduated seniors from 2021-22 team: 2.

Top returning players: Grace Corelli, Jr., G (2021-22 stats: 13.5 ppg, All Section Honorable Mention); Kelsey Vaquero, Sr., G; Carmen Parratta, Sr., F; Kiley Blackmar, Jr., G/F; Antonia DiVincenzo, So., G/F.

Key newcomers: Haley Sirkin, So.; Luciana Parratta, 8th-grade; Riley Morris, So.

Team strengths: Solid returning group, guard-heavy and ready to run.

Coach’s outlook on the season: We have a great group of returning players. We will look to the new players for energy and consistent performances. Grace Corelli will have the ball in her hands once again and is ready to take on Class B.

Noteworthy: Ryan achieved her 100th win in sectionals last year. … Byram Hills is a Class B school this year after playing Class A last year.

FOX LANE FOXES

Coach: Kris Matts (12th year)

2021-22 record: 6-16

2022 Sectional results: Lost in a Class AA second-round game.

League favorite: White Plains.

Section favorite: Pelham.

Graduated seniors from 2021-22 team: Eight.

Top returning players: Lauren Antolino, Jr., 5-6, G; Maddie Broghammer, Sr., 5-3, G; Riley New, Fr., 5-4, G; Morgan Clinton, Fr., 5-8, F; Lily Moore, Jr., 5-6, G; Hannah Getman, Sr., 5-4, G; Nell Silverman, Sr., 5-5, G/F; Tess DiCarlo, Sr., 5-10, C.

Key newcomers: Cora Moore, Fr., 5-7, G; Ava Shuster, So., 5-9, F; Kamiryn Boniello, Fr., 5-6, F.

Team strengths: Our youth brings with it a fearlessness, an energy, and an enthusiasm that permeates the entire program.

Question marks: After graduating eight seniors, including four starters, it will be interesting to see how long it takes last year’s role players to step into more prevalent roles, and how long it will take new talent to learn the system.

Coach’s outlook on the season: Being that we are in a hybrid league, we don’t truly get the advantage of dropping into class A this season. So, we really want to build on last year’s success by not only making the playoffs, but advancing further in them.

Noteworthy: Fox Lane opens the season against Ramapo. … Fox Lane and archrival Horace Greeley are back in the same league. … Fox Lane will have a showcase game against John Jay Cross River.

HEN HUD SAILORS

Coach: Ken Sherman (14th season)

2021-22 record: 8-14

2022 Sectional results: Lost to Mahopac in a Class A Quarterfinal game.

Graduated seniors from the 2021-22 team: Three.

Top returnees: Maddy Porter, Sr., F; Kaitlyn Raguso, So., F (2021-22: 15 ppg, 9 rpg, All-League, All-Section); Alexa Robinson, Jr., G; Hailey Pearson, Jr., F; Kayla Tresgallo, Jr., F; Kayla McCarthy, So., PG Marin Quigley, So., G/F.

Key newcomers: Carmen Marino, So., F; Elyse Smith, Fr., G; Kate Stratton, Fr., F.

Team strengths: We are going to look to push the ball up the floor and get some easy looks at the basket. Having our leading scorer back from last season (Kaitlyn Raguso) is a huge plus and having many returning players with varsity experience is a huge asset. We will look to Kayla McCarthy to run our offense with limited turnovers and look for an added punch from Robinson, Pearson, and Porter.

Question mark: Our major question mark is can we limit our turnovers we had from last season? As a team we just had way too many. We are a team that hustles and plays very good defense, so if we can limit the number of possessions our opponents have against us I will like our chances.

Coach’s outlook on the season: Our first goal is to have more wins than last season and possibly win our first couple of tournaments we are in early in the season.

Noteworthy: Former Hen Hud standout Caitlin Weimar, a leader on Hen Hud’s 2020 Section 1 Class A title team, is a starter for Boston University. … Hen Hud opens the season, 12/1, in the Sleepy Hollow Holiday Tournament.

HALDANE BLUE DEVILS

Coach: Ed Crowe (first year)

2021-22 record: 9-12

2022 Sectional results: Lost in a Class C semifinal.

League favorite: Putnam Valley.

Section favorite: Open.

Graduated seniors from 2021-22 team: Five.

Top returning players: Mairead O’Hara, Sr., F; Betsy Cates, Sr., C; Amanda Johanson, Sr., G/F; Camilla McDaniel, Jr., G.

Key newcomers: Chloe Rowe, Sr., G/F; Marisa Peters, Fr., G.

Team strengths: Competitiveness, and the amount of effort they show on a daily basis.

Coach’s outlook on the season: The goal for us is to get better everyday. The hope is to play competitive basketball and be in the mix for a sectional championship.

Noteworthy: Haldane’s season-opener is against Brewster, 11/30… Haldane will play Section 9’s Beacon. The Bulldogs were a Section 1 school for many years.

HORACE GREELEY QUAKERS

Coach: Sarah Schum (sixth year)

2021-22 record: 4-16​

2022 Sectional results: Loss – Class A out-bracket game.

League favorite: ​White Plains.

Graduated seniors from 2021-22 team: Five.

Top returnees: Emma Rose, Sr., 5-8, G (four-year starter); Bella Schulman, Jr., 5-8, G; Ava Gusba, Jr., 5-8, F; Allie Mosca, So., 5-7, G; Claire Reynolds, So., 5-7, G; Carolina Negrin, So., 5-11, F.

Key newcomers: Meredith Feiner, Jr., 5-10, F; Georgia Sacks, So., 5-5, G.

Team strengths: Athleticism and good perimeter shooters.

Coach’s outlook on the season: We are excited about this season. We have a nice mix of veterans and newcomers. We have a bunch of overall athletes mixed in with girls that really put a lot of time, effort and energy into basketball 12 months out of the year. As long as we do not get in our own way it could be a really great season.

Noteworthy: Horace Greeley opens the season, 12/1, in the Lakeland Tournament. … The Quakers are back in a league with archrival Fox Lane. … Schum was a starter and captain on Lakeland’s 2007 undefeated State Class A champion team along with Pearl River Varsity assistant girls’ basketball coach Amy Voelkel, and Rosemarie Fazio. Voelkel and Fazio would also win a 2006 Class A state field hockey title.

Lakelands Sarah Devane and Panas Julia Gallinger will be prominent Class A force in Section 1 this season

LAKELAND HORNETS

Coach: Miranda Mangan (ninth year)

2021-22 record: 18-4 (Shared the league title with Panas).

Sectional result: Lost in the quarterfinal round to Mahopac.

League favorite: Panas.

Section favorite: Tappan Zee (2022 Section 1 Class A champion) or Panas (2022 Section 1 Class A runner-up).

Graduated seniors from 2021-22 team: Three.

Top returnees: Nichole Ljuljic, Jr., 5-5, PG (2021-22: All–League); Ava Lugo, Jr., 5-8, G (2021-22: All-Conference); Grace Hahn, Jr., 5-10, F; Kellie Sullivan, Jr., 5-6, G; Sarah Devane, So., 5-10, G/F; Amanda Franco, So., 5-4, G.

Key newcomers: Celeste Pagliaroli, Sr., 5-5, G; Yennifer Concepcion, Sr., 5-5, F; Emily Hahn, Fr., 5-7, G; Riley Waters, 8th-grader, 5-5; G.

Team strengths: We return a core group of experienced players that saw a lot of action last season. All of the returning players need to take on a new role and step up both offensively and defensively for us to be successful. We will find our strengths and style of play as the season progresses.

Coach’s outlook on the season: I hope that we have a cohesive unit that can withstand a tough schedule and compete in every game. Everyone has to be all in. Every time we step on the court we need to push each other to make sure we are better than we were the day before. We want to be playing our best basketball at the end of the season.

Noteworthy: Lakeland opens the season hosting its Relay For Life Tournament, 12/1 and 12/3. Lakeland plays Croton and Horace Greeley faces Clarkstown North, Thursday, 4:30 and 6:30, respectively. The consolation game is at 10 a.m. and the title game, noon, Saturday. … Tyler Hormazabal, a 2022 graduate, is playing at Rochester Institute of Technology. … Pagliaroli was an all-section and all-state selection in field hockey.

MAHOPAC INDIANS

Coach: Mairead Hynes (first year)

2021-22 record: 16-4

2022 Sectional results: Lost in Class A semifinal.

League favorite: R.C. Ketcham.

Section favorite: Tappan Zee (2022 Section 1 Class A champion).

Graduated seniors from 2021-22 team: Three.

Top returnees: Lauren Beberman, Sr., G/F; Jess Sterben, Sr., F; Gianna Rispoli, Sr., G; Piper Klamer, Sr., G/F; Christina Rush, Sr., G.

Key newcomers: Julianna Mangione, Jr., G; Caily Salon, So., F; Mady Ford, Fr., G; Niamh Kelleher, Fr.; G; Fiona Kelleher, Fr., G.

Team strengths: Athleticism, shooting.

Coach’s outlook on the season: I want to have my team continue to improve throughout the season. We want to build a cohesive team with our eight returnees and five newcomers. I’m excited to take over the program and continue to grow a committed and competitive environment.

Noteworthy: Mahopac and archrival Carmel reside in the same league this year and will play twice.

OSSINING PRIDE

Coach: Dan Ricci (32nd year)

2021-22 record: 15-7

2022 Sectional results: Lost in Class AA final to Our Lady of Lourdes.

League favorite: White Plains.

Section favorite: Albertus Magnus.

Graduated seniors from 2021-22 team: Four.

Top returnees: Angelica Rios, Sr., 5-8, G/F; Claire Schnecker, Sr., 5-7, G.

Team strengths: Work ethic.

Question marks: Go-to scorer.

Coach’s goals and outlook on the season: We hope to improve every day and be competitive in every game. We have a young team with only three seniors who will need to provide good senior leadership for us to have a successful season.

YORKTOWN CORNHUSKERS

Coach: Kristi Dini (first year at Yorktown, 10th overall)

Graduated seniors from 2021-22 team: Six.

Top returnees: K.J. Judge; Olivia Lucas.

Key newcomers: Nicole Boccia, Sr.; Martina Prybylski, Sr.; Blera Gashi.

Team strengths: The work ethic is off the charts so that’s always a strength. In just two weeks our defense is really coming together so that will be huge for us.

Coach’s outlook on the season: The team is very new. We graduated six seniors and lost two big-time contributors to ACL injuries this fall. All of our newcomers are phenomenal athletes who have impressed us in practice so we’re really excited about them all and still figuring out rotations and roles. Our goal, win or lose, is to always be the most-prepared team on the court, to bring energy and have fun. It’s a really amazing group of kids. They want it, they want to work hard, they do bring great energy, and I’m really excited to continue to work with them, to grow with them, and go to battle with them.

Noteworthy: Prior to Yorktown, Dini coached at Somers and her alma mater, Putnam Valley. Dini guided Putnam Valley to its first Section 1 girls’ basketball title in 2020. In March 2021 (the Covid year), Putnam Valley defeated Panas in the Northern Westchester/Putnam Small- School championship game.

PLEASANTVILLE PANTHERS

Coach: Kelly Guarino (first year)

2022 Sectional results: Lost in the Class B Quarterfinal Round.

League favorite: Briarcliff.

Section favorite: Putnam Valley.

Graduated seniors from 2021-22 team: Four.

Top returning players: Meghan Raefski, So., 5-4, G (2021-22 stats: 12 ppg, All-League); Kayla Collins, Sr., 5-10, F.

Team strengths: Offensive rebounding.

Coach’s outlook on the season: The goal is to be a hard-working, gritty team. We want to continue to change the culture every day and prioritize the importance of team basketball.

Noteworthy: Guarino was a four-year varsity player at Albertus Magnus High School and coach Pat Buckley. Guarino played at New Jersey Institute of Technology and was an assistant coach to Buckley for three years. … Guarino takes Pleasantville to her alma mater, Albertus Magnus, 12/28.

PUTNAM VALLEY TIGERS

Coach: Don Hamlin (second year, 28th varsity overall)

2021-22 record: 23-7.

2022 Sectional results: Won Section 1 Class B title. Lost in a state semifinal.

League favorite: Putnam Valley.

Section favorite: Ardsley, Byram Hills, Briarcliff, Irvington, Westlake and Putnam Valley.

Graduated seniors from the 2021-22 team: Three.

Top returnees: Eva Dechent, Sr., 5-11, PG (2021-22: All-League, All-Section, leading scorer in school history); Nai Torres, Jr., 5-8, G (2021-22: All-League, All-Section); Brianna Foody, Jr., 5-7 guard (2021-22: All-League); Ava Harman, Jr., 5-7, F; Jona Kobashi, So., 6-0, F.

Key newcomers: Simone Gabriel, Sr., 6-0, C; Maggie Caputo, So., 5-6, F; Sophie Randazzo, So., 5-4, G; Ella Wendol, 8th-grade, 5-7, G.

Team strengths: Size and experience.

Coach’s outlook on the season: When you work hard, good things will happen. Our goal is as alway, be the best team and teammates we can possibly be.

Noteworthy: DeChent signed with the University of Rhode Island.

Fearless Somers senior G Ava Giudice has three years of varsity experience to help guide 2023 Tuskers

SOMERS TUSKERS

Coach: Kevin Mallon (first year)

2021-22 record: 8-14

2022 Sectional results: Lost to Harrison in a Class A first-round game.

Graduated seniors from the 2021-22 team: Four.

League Favorite: John Jay Cross River.

Section Favorite: Panas.

Top returnees: Ava Giudice, Sr., 5-4, PG; Alexa Warycha, Sr., 6-0, C; Lauren McCartin, Sr., 5-7 F; Maddie Lyle, Sr., 5-4, SG; Aleksiana Rukaj, Sr., 5-10, C; Bailey Atkinson, Sr., 5-6, SG; Lindsay McCullough, Jr., 5-6, SG; Sydney Ingraham, So., 5-6, PG.

Team strengths: Athleticism and speed.

Noteworthy: Mallon was former coach, now Somers’ Athletic Director Marc Hattem’s assistant coach for four years. … Somers opens the season, 12/8, against Hen Hud in the Briarcliff Tournament. … Somers will host its own tournament with a field of Panas, Mahopac and Ossining.

VALHALLA VIKINGS

Coach: Dave Berry (first year)

Graduated seniors from 2021-22 team: Five.

Top returnees: Sinead Sproul, Sr., C; Cydney Waterman, Jr., F; Sanai Wilson, Jr., G; Paige Williams, Jr., G; Giulia Rutigliano, So., G.

Key newcomers: Tvisha Sivaramakrishnan, Jr.; Violet Mattoni, So., Isabella Mattoni, So.

Team strengths: Speed and skill.

Question marks: Size.

Coach’s outlook on the season: We are looking for growth and progress from our underclassmen, who are taking up lead roles, and will provide a big boost off the bench from sophomore twins, Violet and Isabella Mattoni. We hope to push the tempo, defend with urgency and see how far it takes us.

Noteworthy: Valhalla tips off the season, 12/1, in the Irvington Tournament. … Sinead Sproul is the team’s only senior.

WESTLAKE WILDCATS

Coach: Sean P. Mayer (22nd year)

2021-22 record: 17-6 (League Champs).

2022 Sectional results: Lost in the Class B semifinals to Irvington.

Graduated seniors from the 2021-22 team: One.

Top returnees: Allie Castellone (2021-22: All-Conference, All-League, 15.5 ppg); Toni Ann Mastracchio, PG (2021-22: All-League, three-year starter); Sami Oswald, SG (three-year starter); Riley Giaccone, F.

Key newcomers: Maggie Platkin, So., G/F; Brooke Pfieffer, Fr., G/F.

Team strengths: Experience. We have a number of players back from last season who are experienced varsity players. We also have players coming up to the varsity level for the first time who will add talent to our team. We have several players who can play multiple positions and handle the basketball.

Question marks: One area we will need to continue to work on is rebounding and our inside game. Julie Lyden was a big presence in the post, especially rebounding. We are going to have to figure out ways to develop post points and rebound both on defense and offense. Our tallest player is 5-7.

Coach’s outlook on the season: We want to push the tempo for easy baskets and play hard pressure defense which hopefully will translate into transition points. They are a great group of young adults and we are looking forward to a great season. Class B has several talented basketball teams and we need to continue to improve throughout the season to compete during sectionals.

Noteworthy: Allie Castellone has a chance to score 1,000 points which would be only the second player in school history to reach that milestone, joining Natalie Alfieri. … Julie Lyden, an All-Conference and All-League selection last year, is a freshman and playing basketball at Saint Michael’s (Vermont). … Mayer is closing in on 200 wins.

WHITE PLAINS TIGERS

Coach: Benji Carter (sixth year at White Plains, 15th varsity year overall)

2021-22 record: 14-6

2022 Sectional results: Lost in a Class AA second-round game to Albertus Magnus.

League favorite: White Plains.

Sectional favorite: R.C. Ketcham (2022 Section 1 Class AA champions), Albertus Magnus (2022 Section 1 Class AA runner-up), Ursuline, White Plains.

Graduated seniors from 2021-22 team: None.

Top returnees: Aliya McIver, Sr., 5-7, PG (2021-22 stats:15.3 ppg, 4.5 apg, 5.6 rpg, 4.8 spg, All-Conference and Runner-up League MVP); Ineivi Plata, Jr., 5-3, PG (2021-22 stats: 15.9 ppg, 3.4 apg, 3.7 spg, All-League Honorable Mention); Capri DeMara, Sr., 5-6, SG; Sequoia Layne, Jr., 6-1, F; Anneliese Reggio, Sr., 5-6, G; India Newman, Jr., 5-7, SG; Isabella McGuire, Jr., 5-7, F; Isabella Cummings, Jr., 5-10, F; Cairenn Sergi, Sr., 5-6, G.

Key newcomers: Kristen Morris, Sr., 5-4, SG; Ava D’arcy, Jr., 5-7, F; Stella Gould, Sr., 5-9, F; Tess Haddad, Jr., 5-6, SG.

Team strengths: We are athletic, skillful, solid defensively and compete at a high level. Having players that are being recruited to play Division I college basketball adds to our increased confidence level.

Question marks: Maintain focus when fighting through adversity.

Coach’s outlook on the season: Our goal is to stay disciplined, work hard, remain humble, and continue to enhance our positive character growth for individual and team success. Again, we will focus on each game collectively and earn the right to repeat as league champions (first goal); advance to the sectional finals to compete for a gold ball (second goal). We are returning a solid group of experienced players and team leaders. Overall, we have team depth, the willingness to sacrifice for our continued team and program growth.

Noteworthy: McIver has signed to attend Rider University and continue playing basketball. She has 823 career points coming into the season. … White Plains opens the season at Scarsdale, 12/5. … Carter, who coached the Alexander Hamilton varsity girls’ basketball team for nine years prior, is 22 wins away from 200. … Last year, White Plains was a perfect 7-0 to win its league title.

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