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Nov 27, 2018 2:05 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Lady Baymen Basketball Starts With New Slate; Move Back Down To Class B Has Boys Hopeful

Sierra Gaffney, left, and Rebecca Heaney are two of just four returning players from the Lady Baymen this season. DREW BUDD
Nov 27, 2018 2:05 PM

The Hampton Bays girls basketball team is working with a clean slate.

Darryl Johnson has taken over as head coach of the team for Vinny Russo, who stepped down after last season, and after the graduation of Mackenzie Tyler, who scored more than 1,000 career points, the Lady Baymen have taken on a much different look. Johnson, who is also an assistant within the Hampton Bays football program, is returning to girls basketball after about a 10-year layoff. He’s looking to get the program going again after a couple of lean seasons.

“For us it’s not rebuild, it’s next game up,” he said. “Our future is our youth right now. We’ve got some talent. We’re going to start young, but hopefully in a year or two we’ll be very competitive. But this is not a scrap year at all. This is a year where we still expect to play hard. I know they’ve been thin for the past couple of years, so whatever we bring—myself, [assistant coach Dave Flannery], [JV coach Linda Schmidt]—it’ll probably be a little bit different, more active, but hopefully we’ll be looking at better results.”

Just four of the dozen or so players that make up this year’s roster were on last year’s team. That includes juniors Rebecca Heaney, Pam Grajales and Jennifer Serna and sophomore Sierra Gaffney. Johnson said Heaney and Grijales will be the team’s “generals” on the court this season and that he plans on using the entire roster. That includes sophomores Meghan Brownell, Giana Domenico, Taylor Hopson and Gabriela Ramos and freshmen Haley Castaldo, Bryona Hayes, Sarah Montalvo, Kaitlyn Mounts and Abril Vasquez.

Hampton Bays will move back down to Class B this season where it had played for many years before playing the past few seasons in Class A. League VI includes all of the small schools in Suffolk County, which is Babylon, Center Moriches, Port Jefferson, returning county champion Mattituck, Southold/Greenport, Southampton, Class C school Pierson/Bridgehampton and Class D school Smithtown Christian.

“Hopefully we surprise a couple of teams early, and then the next thing you know we’re a team they’re looking at,” he said.

Boys

The move back down to Class B was music to Pete Meehan’s ears when he heard the news over a year ago, and now the Baymen will play in what the head coach feels is a more suitable class and league this season. Whether or not it translates to an improvement from last year’s 6-14 overall record is still up in the air but Meehan said it gives his team more of a fighting chance.

Meehan will go into the season without the services of David Krieg, Andrew Calderone, Sage McMorris, Christian Ottati and Tyler Gaffney, who all graduated. Krieg is now playing at Suffolk County Community College.

But senior Antonio Scotto, entering his fourth year on varsity, and juniors Lucas Brown and Jaden Ottati, who all either started or played a bunch of minutes last season, are returning, giving the Baymen a good core to work with. Senior Matt Dean, who had to play behind Krieg and McMorris last season, is also returning and should slide into the starting lineup. Junior Edvin Srdanovic also returns this season.

Meehan has called up five players from the junior varsity in juniors Aaron Butters, Steven Mora, Kyle Rodriguez, Jonathan Salas and Kevin Sheridan. Senior Tajay Dallas is returning after having moved back to the district this year and senior Jordan Hanes is returning to the sport after taking last year off.

“We are guard oriented. For now we’ll start four guards,” Meehan said. “Matt Dean is our only starter over 6 feet, so defense and rebounding will be real key for us to try and do that with a smaller lineup. But we should be more athletic, we should run more and shoot more from the outside, which could be good, could be bad. We still want to get the ball to the foul line.

“But this is a high-character group,” he added. “They’re great kids who work hard. We’ve had two real good weeks of practice. They like playing and they like each other.”

Center Moriches, a state finalist last year which added transfer Micah Snowden from Southampton, will continue to be the top team to beat in League VII this season. Southampton has dropped back down to a Class B school as well, and Babylon and Mattituck typically have strong teams. Port Jefferson also plays in the league along with the only Class A team, Elwood/John Glenn.

“We’re going to compete,” Meehan said. “Dropping down to Class B doesn’t mean the competition gets any easier but it is more suitable for us to try and have more wins than losses. We don’t have a lot of depth so I think staying healthy is going to be important. Two years ago we lost Scotto to a broken nose, last year we lost Lucas Brown to the flu for two weeks. I think other teams are in the same boat where they can’t afford to lose some guys, but I like our guys.”

Hampton Bays hosts Smithtown Christian in a non-league game this Friday, November 30, at 6 p.m. The Baymen host their league opener on December 19 against Babylon at 6:15 p.m. and then they’ll have a busy end of the month. After playing in the Reverend Marvin Dozier Memorial Tournament in Southampton on December 21 and 22, Hampton Bays will host its annual Coaches v. Cancer Tournament on December 27 and 28. Port Jeff, Southold and Westhampton Beach will all be competing in that tournament.

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