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Jan 29, 2016 2:13 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Lady Canes Basketball Clinches First Playoff Berth In Four Years

Feb 1, 2016 11:34 PM

Things have come full circle for the Westhampton Beach girls basketball team.

The Lady Hurricanes clinched their first playoff berth in four years in the same exact gym their last playoff game took place: Amityville. In 2012, Westhampton Beach fell to Amityville in the Class A quarterfinals, but on Thursday night, the Lady Canes (7-4 League V, 11-6) took it to the host Lady Warriors, winning 63-49.

It’s an admirable accomplishment for a team that has a first-year head coach in Katie Peters and roster that has a good mix of seniors and underclassman. Madison Skala, one of three senior captains on the team, said the Lady Hurricanes are excited to reach the postseason. Skala, Kaila Gagne and Shea Casey, the other two senior captains, gave a lot of credit to Peters for gearing the team’s game plans around its best strength, its athleticism. Many of the players on the team are two- or three-sport athletes and bring something different to the team.

Casey said she knew the team had chance to qualify for the playoffs after the first game of the season, which was a one-point, non-league loss to Class AA school William Floyd.

“The season started out great and we bonded really well,” Skala said. “We all definitely work really well together. The additions of Belle Smith and Lindsay Rongo have been great.”

Smith, an eighth-grader, and Rongo, a freshman, have been welcome additions to the varsity squad. Even though they're young, each possess the ability to lead the team in scoring, in Smith's case, or rebounding, in Rongo's case. But in the victory over Amityville last week, it was sophomore Lexi Miller who stepped up, scoring 21 points to go with seven rebounds, two assists and two steals. Miller’s previous high was 10 points.

Peters said she was patiently waiting for Miller to have a breakout game.

“Lexi is a player who has a lot of potential, and throughout this season, has gained confidence each day,” she said. “She is a fierce competitor and versatile, since she can play as a guard but also as a small forward. She has learned how to use her body to get position for rebounds and her strength gives her an advantage when she plays underneath.”

Westhampton Beach held a 20-5 lead over Amityville after the first quarter and that lead allowed the Lady Canes to stay in front the rest of the game. Smith scored 17 points and also chipped in with five assists and four rebounds. Rongo had six points and six rebounds.

Westhampton Beach also defeated East Hampton (League VI), 62-22, in a non-league game on January 26 and won, 59-57, at Comsewogue on Saturday in what was a triple overtime game. Rongo grabbed an offensive rebound, after two missed layups, and scored with three seconds left to give the Lady Canes the lead and eventual victory. Rongo finished with 20 points and 22 rebounds. Skala had extended the game with two free throws that tied it at 50 with .3 of a second left in the second overtime. She finished with 12 points. Casey had nine points and 14 rebounds. Kaila Gagne held Comsewogue's Nora Gabel to one point in the second half.

Where the Lady Canes will fall in the seeding of the Class A bracket is still a question with the regular season finishing up this week. Islip (9-0 League V, 11-2 overall), Elwood/John Glenn (9-0, League VI, 13-2 overall), Harborfields (8-2 League V, 12-3 overall), Hampton Bays (8-2 League VI, 14-2 overall) and Shoreham/Wading River (6-3 League VI, 9-5 overall) have all clinched playoff spots, with Mount Sinai (5-4 League VI, 10-5 overall) and Sayville (4-5 League V, 8-7 overall) not too far behind.

Westhampton Beach hosted Islip in its final regular-season game on Tuesday. The Class A playoffs are slated to begin Saturday, February 13, at the higher seed's location. The senior captains, Skala, Gagne and Casey, all said that winning the rest of their games would give them the best chance to get a higher seed, so that's what they're focused on.

"We feel like we have a lot of potential to do well [in the playoffs] and we're hoping to give everything we have to get as far as we can," Gagne said.

Boys

The Hurricanes halted a four-game losing streak with a 59-43 non-league victory at home over Port Jefferson (League VIII) on January 25. The Canes came out firing on all cylinders and led 22-6 after the first quarter. Nolan Quinlan and Jake Gaudiello each scored 17 points, with Quinlan also reaching double digits in rebounds with 10.

Westhampton Beach went toe-to-toe with Amityville last week but eventually lost, 83-74, in overtime at home on Thursday, January 28. Joshua Serrano hit a three-pointer with 2.7 seconds left to knot the score at 67 and force overtime, where the Warriors went on to outscore the Canes 16-7 to win the game. Westhampton Beach trailed for most of the game but outscored Amityville 27-20 in the fourth quarter. Quinlan led the Canes with 20 points while Gaudiello had 17. Nick LaFrese and Nigel Braithwaite Jr. each scored 10 points.

Westhampton Beach played at Islip on Tuesday and finishes its season with a 4 p.m. home game on Thursday, February 4, against Comsewogue.

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Go Canes!
Go Coach Peters!
GIRL POWER!
By zappy (62), east quogue on Jan 31, 16 5:35 PM
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