Bilodeau, Casey will spark Whitman girls

Whitman F Essence Casey drives the baseline against Whitman F Essence Casey drives the baseline against Riverhead G Naysha Trent. (Dec. 4, 2012) Photo Credit: George A. Faella

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The past two Suffolk Class AA girls basketball champions were both senior-laden, experienced teams. Whitman hopes the trend continues. The Wildcats return eight seniors, including every starter.

The senior duo of 5-9 guard Kelly Bilodeau and 5-9 forward Essence Casey are the linchpins. Bilodeau averaged 14 points last season, can score in a variety of ways and is a very good defensive player. Casey is athletic, strong and can play on the perimeter. Senior point guard Katira Jemmott plays at a fast pace and can break down defenses. This is an experienced team that will make a deep run in the postseason.

Sachem East, a perennial contender that has reached the final in four of the last five seasons, returns three starters led by junior point guard Katie Doherty, an all-around player who got stronger physically and improved her shot. Kathleen Everson, a 5-10 junior, is a force inside and seniors Samantha Drake, Allie Drake and Emily Carmel also return from a semifinal team.

North Babylon returns all five starters led by two Division I recruits, Makeda Nicholas, a 6-2 junior forward, and sophomore guard Brianna Jones. They will anchor the Bulldogs and are joined by senior guards Jalen Powell and Brittany Hicks.

Copiague has a young nucleus, but with some experienced seniors surrounding them. Mikaiya Moore, a 6-foot freshman, is one of the best players on the Island. She runs the floor well, can shoot from outside and blocks shots. Ihnacinse Grady, a sophomore point guard and Moore's cousin, is very quick and sets up teammates well. Seniors Tracey McFadden and Paige Corkins are good complements.

Longwood is team with good athletes and four starters back. Kiersten West, a 5-9 junior forward, has already received several Division I offers. She's an excellent defensive player and has increased his shooting range. Senior guard Sade Holmes, junior forward Taj Hinton and senior guard Tiffany Ruiz form a solid nucleus.

Northport returns nine players, led by senior forward Allie Clarke, senior guard Kristin Cleary and senior forward Dorrien Van Dyke.

Riverhead, the defending Class AA champions, lost 10 players, but return senior guard Shanice Allen, who has improved her outside shooting. The team is boosted by the return of Naysha Trent, a senior guard, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL after starting as a sophomore.

Lindenhurst will rely on senior 5-10 forward Val Oyakhilome much more as the lone returning starter. She's strong, can get to the basket well and can shoot the three. Senior forward Randi Zorn and freshman guard Alexis Purdue are players to watch.

Deer Park returns starters Nicole Gomez, a senior guard, and freshman guard Gianna Locker. Hauppauge, which reached the final last season, lost a lot but returns senior Julie Williams.

Commack will put a scare into many teams with a lot of balance led by sophomore guard Erin Storck and sophomore forward Chelsea Schultz. Huntington might sneak up on some teams with senior guard Raynisha Weatherspoon and sophomore forward Heather Forster.

 

Class A

Harborfields lost in the final last year and is the favorite with eight returning players. Senior forward Bridgit Ryan, a five-year player, spent more time on basketball in the summer and is a threat inside and outside. Senior forward Amy Werbitsky and senior guard Amy Luxemberg return and junior forward Kristen Kelly will also play key roles.

Defending champion Glenn is led by sophomore forward Tanna Mohammed, senior guard Emma Klis and junior point guard Mackenzie Svilli.

Shoreham-Wading River returns four starters from a semifinal squad led by senior forward Meghan King, sophomore point guard Courtney Clasen and junior forward Taylor Whiffen.

Senior forward Shannon Duer makes Islip a threat.

 

Class BSouthampton is hoping to repeat as champions in Class B and bring back a lot with a seniors Paris Hodges, Kesi Goree, Cassidy Guida, Carley Guida and junior Noel Hodges. Southampton is a very good defensive team that has been competitive with AA teams.

Freshman Alexis Fotopoulos will try to get Hampton Bays back to the county final. Babylon is led by senior Devyn Antolini and senior Allie Wilcenski paces Mattituck.

 

Class CPierson/Bridgehampton looks to return to the final behind last season's leading scorer junior Bridget Canavan.

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