For years, Westhampton Beach girls basketball head coach Mike Polan has been searching for a balanced scoring attack from his team’s offense, even though it had a prolific scorer in Kristen Polan. Now that Polan has graduated, however, the Lady Hurricanes have no choice but to get scoring from their other players.
Westhampton Beach showed what a balanced scoring attack could do for a young team on Friday night, as the Lady Hurricanes defeated Pierson, 45-29, at home in what was the non-league season opener for both teams. Westhampton Beach did sustain its first loss of the season, a 31-29 defeat at East Hampton on Saturday.
Seniors Sammie Vickers and Katelyn Ogeka each scored 14 points for Westhampton Beach in the win over Pierson on Friday night. It was Ogeka’s career high. Junior Brooke Alpert scored nine points and junior Julia Frangeskos finished with six. Junior Ivonne Grunseich had a career-high 14 rebounds.
Coach Polan said the scoring attack came from each player finding the open shot. “I think the reality of it is that they realized they had to step up their game,” he said of his players. “Somebody has to do the scoring. I liked the way they looked for each other. The passing is improving.”
Both Westhampton Beach and Pierson had a rough first half, missing open shots and opportunities at the basket. The Lady Canes led just 15-13 at the half, but came out on fire in the third quarter, starting a quick 6-0 run that forced Pierson head coach Kevin Barron to call a time out just 1:06 into the half. Halfway through the fourth quarter, Westhampton Beach built up a 15-point lead to go on to victory.
Barron said that if it weren’t for a poor third quarter—in which his team was outscored 14-6—it would have been a much closer game. Ultimately, it was the turnovers that did his team in. The Lady Whalers committed 20 turnovers.
“We had three scrimmages before our first game and the turnovers hurt us in all three of those as well,” Barron said. “We always get off to a slow start every season and we were really hoping to get rid of that habit and win some non-league games this year.
“I think it was a little bit of rust,” he continued. “Some girls may have had an off-night shooting the ball. Overall, I was happy. I didn’t question their effort at all. They were hustling all over the place. Sometimes the shots don’t fall, but eventually they will.”
Barron thought his forwards—in particular junior Bridget Canavan and freshman Erica Selyukova—played well. They each scored a team-high nine points in what was Selyukova’s first varsity game. Barron also praised junior May Evjen for her effort on defense.
East Hampton and Westhampton Beach kept their annual meeting in place with a non-league game, now that the Lady Canes play in League V instead of League VI and won’t be seeing each other during the league season. The two teams are usually evenly matched and it made for a competitive game over the weekend.
The difference in the game, and the downfall for Westhampton Beach, was the third quarter, in which East Hampton won, 8-2. The Lady Canes made a push in the final quarter but the game eventually came down to free throws. Ashley Rojas sunk two free throws to give the Lady Bonackers the two-point lead and eventual victory with five seconds left in the game.
“They made their foul shots and we only shot two free throws the entire game,” Coach Polan said. “And I told the girls it was not the officiating. We were not attacking the basket, we were settling for jump shots. We have to be more aggressive offensively. And when the perimeter shots aren’t going in and we’re not rebounding, it’s tough to come back from that.
“I was disappointed to lose the game, but the girls will learn from their mistakes and improve from each game,” he added.
Alpert led the team with 12 points. Vickers had seven points and junior Lauren Smith had six points.ON THE SCHEDULE: Pierson—Thursday, 12/6, at Centereach, 6:45 p.m.; Tuesday, 12/11, at Bayport/Blue Point, 4:30 p.m.; Friday, 12/14, at Ross, 6:15 p.m. Westhampton Beach—Thursday, 12/6, at Southampton, 6 p.m.; Tuesday, 12/11, at Mattituck, 5:45 p.m.; Friday, 12/14, at Kings Park, 5:45 p.m.