The playoff chances for the Westhampton Beach girls basketball team are looking quite slim after the Lady Hurricanes suffered a 52-19 loss at Sayville on Friday night.
While the loss does not mathematically eliminate the Lady Hurricanes from postseason contention, they would have to rattle off three consecutive wins against the top three squads in League V—Harborfields, Islip and Comsewogue—in their final three regular season games.
Westhampton Beach (3-6 League V, 7-8 overall) did earn a victory last week, a 42-34 home win over Rocky Point last Thursday, January 23. With the game tied 13-13 at halftime, the Lady Hurricanes outscored Rocky Point 29-21 in the second half to secure the win and senior Brooke Alpert had a lot to do with that. She scored 11 of her game-high 12 points in the second half. Junior Kathleen Mensch chipped in with eight.
But Westhampton Beach did suffer some key injuries, making it a costly win. Seniors Lauren Smith and Maddie Sganga both went down with concussions, with Sganga suffering the harder fall, according to head coach Mike Polan. Smith, though, wasn’t able to play against Sayville and it showed in the loss to the Lady Golden Flashes.
Sayville held a 26-7 lead at the half and things didn’t get much better in the second half. Polan said he was not happy with the performance of his team.
“Sayville is a very good team, which forces you into what I like to call ‘crazy ball,’” he said. “They do a lot of trapping, they’re flying all over the place, and we have a problem with that type of game. Panic sets in.
“It was a very, very disappointing game,” Polan continued. “I thought we were much better than that. But not having Lauren in there hurt us. She gives us our toughness, which we were lacking in that game.”
A silver lining in that loss was that freshman Camryn Bancroft had a career game, scoring 13 points and pulling down eight rebounds. Three other Lady Canes combined for just six points.
In terms of making the playoffs, Polan realizes that his team needs nothing short of a miracle. Westhampton Beach has already lost prior games to Harborfields, Islip and Comsewogue.
Looking back, Polan said the double overtime loss suffered at home to Eastport South Manor a few weeks back is going to be labeled as the game that got away. Had his team won that contest, and maybe stolen a game from Comsewogue, it could have vastly improved its chances of making the postseason.
Now, Polan will reluctantly look toward the future and play with a few different combinations of starting lineups. The team’s younger players, such as Bancroft, sophomores Shea Casey and Kaila Gagne, along with juniors Mensch and Kennedy Skala, look to benefit the most.
“I’m almost at a point now where the seniors had their run and I’ll probably put my team that I’ll have with me next year together,” Polan said. “The starters we had in there were given an opportunity to do something, but we have a nice young nucleus and they have to get some game time.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how that works out and seeing how they hold up against real tough competition,” he continued. “And it might be a wake-up call to them that they have to put in a little bit of time if they want to compete in League V.”
Thanks to their current three-game winning streak, the Westhampton Beach boys basketball team, as of Tuesday morning, is still in prime position to make the playoffs. The Hurricanes need just one more victory in their final three regular season games to punch their postseason ticket.
Westhampton Beach won at Rocky Point, 59-40, on Friday night, before defeating Sayville, 48-41, the following day.
“The kids have regrouped, which is good,” Westhampton Beach head coach John Baumiller said, referring to a four-game losing streak the team endured earlier this season. “We’re on a little roll and the kids are playing unselfish and with a great attitude.”
With the game tied 26-26 at Rocky Point, the Hurricanes (5-4 League V, 7-7 overall) used a 22-5 third quarter to turn things around. Rocky Point had defeated the Canes on their home court earlier this season in overtime. In that game, junior Devonte Dixon was in foul trouble and barely played while senior Mike Frangeskos was suffering from leg cramps.
But when asked if it was a revenge-type victory, Baumiller said that was not the case. “Revenge is not in my vocabulary,” he said. “A win is a win. Every team is gunning for a victory, so you can’t take anything away from Rocky Point.”
Dixon had 20 points and 13 rebounds in the victory while Frangeskos added 14 points. Seniors Luke Dyer and John Frangeskos each had nine points.
The Canes jumped out in front of Sayville, 23-14, at halftime on Saturday and their lead was never really in jeopardy. The Golden Flashes went on a strong run in the final 90 seconds to make the final score close. Dixon had another double-double, with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Mike Frangeskos had 16 points while John Frangeskos had nine. Dyer chipped in with seven.
Baumiller explained that the turnaround for the Hurricanes can be attributed to team chemistry. They played very well in the summer and fall leagues, then got an All-County player in Dixon thrown into the mix, who was maybe trying to do a little too much when the season first started. Now that Dixon is using all of his talent, he’s close to averaging a triple-double every night, and the other players are contributing more.
“Right now they’re playing every game for the love of the game,” Baumiller said of his players. “And it’s hard to get them out of the gym. I’ll call practice and they stay to play longer.
“Our goal was to make the playoffs and we’re one win away, so I’m happy,” he added.
ON THE SCHEDULE: Girls—Tuesday, 1/28, at Harborfields; Friday, 1/31, vs. Comsewogue, 6 p.m.; Thursday, 2/6. at Islip, 4:30 p.m. Boys—Tuesday, 1/28, vs. Harborfields; Friday, 1/31, at Comsewogue, 5:45 p.m.; Friday, 2/6, vs. Islip, 4 p.m.