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Nov 28, 2017 7:10 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Season Preview: Time Is Now For Westhampton Beach Boys Basketball; Girls Hope To Rebound

Westhampton Beach senior Jake Gaudiello is looking to build upon his All-Conference season from last year. DREW BUDD
Nov 28, 2017 9:24 AM

The time is now for the Westhampton Beach boys basketball team.

Facing a decimated squad due to a number of key injuries and other circumstances three years ago, Westhampton Beach head coach John Baumiller called up three sophomores from the junior varsity—Nigel Braithwaite Jr., Jake Gaudiello and Nolan Quinlan—hoping that by the time the trio became seniors, they would make the playoffs and vie for a county title. If the offseason was any indication—they didn’t lose a spring league game and won the SYS Summer League—the Hurricanes could finally find themselves back in playoff contention after a three-year layoff.

“I started them on a three-year plan and now it’s their senior year,” Baumiller said. “They are a total team. They share the ball, they bring a lot of intensity and they truly like one another and enjoy being around each other.”

Gaudiello was an All-Conference player last season but Baumiller thought he played well enough to garner All-County honors. Gaudiello is set to prove himself as such this season.

“He was arguably our best player last year and this year he’s probably our most improved player from the offseason. That’s how much better he’s gotten,” Baumiller said. “He’s really improved all around. He could always shoot it but now he can drive to the basket as well. He’s come so far as a player.”

Jack Tiska wound up finishing last season in the starting lineup after starting it as a reserve and will continue to see the starting lineup this season. That means there’s a fifth and final starting position up for grabs, which Baumiller said will be set to a three-man rotation based on matchups with the opposing team. Alec Small and Will Tucker will slot into the lineup as guards when Baumiller feels a smaller lineup is needed, but he will insert Simon Brathwaite when he wants to go big.

Gage McIntyre, Lucas Budrys, Reilly MacDonald, Evan D’Alessandro, Aidan Sattler and Spencer Trager make up the rest of the team, currently, but Baumiller said there are also a handful of players that can finally try out for the team after finishing up their fall season as Long Island Champions on the football team.

It won’t be an easy task making the playoffs in Suffolk County Class A this year. Both League V and League VI appear to be the most competitive leagues in the county. East Islip and Kings Park have come down from League IV to join a League V that was already made up of competitive teams in East Hampton, Harborfields, Hauppauge, Islip, Rocky Point and Sayville. Amityville will play in League VI during the regular season and is the early favorite to win the county title.

The Hurricanes open the season with a non-league game at home against neighbor Eastport South Manor, which will begin at noon. After hosting Shoreham/Wading River in another non-league game on Monday at 4 p.m., the Canes will play their first league game on Thursday, December 7, at Hauppauge at 5:45 p.m.

Girls

The Lady Hurricanes had a bit of a disappointing campaign last season, finishing with a 6-8 league record and missing the playoffs by a single game after making the postseason the year before. But the majority of the young squad is back this season and searching for a return to the playoffs.

Junior forward Lindsay Rongo is returning, along with junior guard Annabelle Seeliger. Sophomore guard Isabelle Smith, who was All-County and All-League last season, also returns, along with sophomore forward Layla Mendoza. Guards Ansley Berman, Julia Magro, Caitlin Gallagher and Juliette Seeliger also return along with forward Hailey Daleo.

New to the team are a pair of guards transferring into the district. Hollie Schleicher is a junior who transferred from Pierson, while Makayla Hoffman, a sophomore, has returned to the district after a year out of state. Freshman forward Molly Skorobohaty and freshmen guards Alexis Valerius and Giana Murphy are up from junior varsity.

League V has a bit of a new look this season with the addition of East Hampton, East Islip, Hauppauge and Kings Park. Harborfields, Islip and Sayville round out the rest of the league. The Lady Hurricanes opened their season on Tuesday in a non-league game at Eastport South Manor and will play another non-league game at Pierson on Thursday, November 30, at 4 p.m. They play their league opener on Tuesday, December 5, at Harborfields at 6 p.m. Westhampton Beach will host Hauppauge in its first home game on Thursday, December 7, at 4 p.m.

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