By Bill Landon
The 2015-16 season holds promise for the Centereach girl’s basketball team as most of last years starters return to vie for a playoff appearance in League III action with a distinct advantage — having lost just one senior to graduation from last years’ squad.
Unlike last years’ team, which went 4-11, the Cougars lineup features six seniors, three juniors and three sophomores, with 10 returning players.
Head coach James Steigele Jr. said there is no one player who has emerged as a dominant leader this year, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“With so many returning players they have all stepped up into a leadership role, especially at their position,” he said, adding that he’ll still rely on seasoned senior co-captains Lauren Meigel, Nicole Fellone, Katrina Gangji, Erica Medina and Alyssa Sokolowski.
To make the post season, the coach told his team that the keys to success are communication, offensive ball control and holding their opponents to as few points as possible.
“Communication might sound vague, but it touches on multiple facets of success,” Steigele said. “We’ll have to move the ball offensively and play a tough, hard-nose defense.”
The Cougars opened their season defeating League I challenger Patchogue-Medford, 48-41, in the coaches for cancer game, and then fell to Elwood-John Glenn and Mount Sinai — all nonleague challengers.
The head coach said he feels positive just three games into the season.
“We were leading Glenn 19-3 after the first quarter,” he said. “They’re very competitive, well-coached and they are a consistent postseason team.”
After the final game of last season, the lone departing senior, Alicia Indence, who plays women’s basketball at Mount Saint Mary’s College, predicted good things for this years’ team.
“With the talent this team has I know they’ll do very well next season,” Indence said.
Centereach will open regular season play on December 15 on the road against Smithtown East with tipoff slated for 4 p.m. According to the coach, Riverhead will be one of the team’s toughest opponents this year. He said he believes that the Blue Waves’ starting five is one of the best in the county.
“You can’t take any team lightly in this league, “ Steigele said. “We need to get past every team in order to clinch a playoff berth.”