Allie Twible of East Meadow gets past Mepham's Grace Skulavik...

Allie Twible of East Meadow gets past Mepham's Grace Skulavik during a Nassau Conference AA-I girls basketball game against Mepham in Bellmore on Saturday. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

East Meadow girls basketball coach Peter M. Olenik needed to see it to believe it. The 11-year coach for East Meadow knew that because of changes within the state enrollment classifications, Baldwin would be moving to Class AAA. That would signal the most dominant force in Class AA would no longer be his concern — at least for this season. When the schedule was released, Olenik was relieved to no longer see the name “Baldwin” as an opponent.

“It’s always nice to not see Baldwin twice a year. The past 10 years I’ve had to see them twice a year, so I can’t say I’m not happy,” said Olenik with a laugh. “I wish [coach Tom Catapano] and Baldwin all the best, but not seeing him twice this year is definitely a blessing in disguise.”

Baldwin had won nine straight Nassau Class AA championships before moving to Class AAA. This is the first year the state added Class AAA for certain sports and the entire East Meadow team is excited for the better opportunity at a conference and county crown.

“It definitely gives us more to work toward because we know we can contend for a championship and be one of the best teams in the conference,” said Allie Twible, a junior guard averaging 19.6 points this season. “It gives us something we can work toward because the past couple of years, we know we’re expecting second or third. But now we can contend for a championship.”

East Meadow was one of the few previous Class AA teams to remain in the same classification. The Jets (7-4 overall, 4-1 Conference AA-I) have been one of the stronger programs in the county in recent seasons, finishing with a winning record in six of the last seven years.

Senior guards and four-year varsity players Brooke Vislocky (10.2 points per game) and Charlotte Viola (10.7) have also played key roles for the Jets. Twible, already a five-year varsity player, wants nothing more than seeing those seniors graduate as champions.

“They deserve it more than anything,” Twible said. “I’ve been on varsity with them for four years and this is so different. Doing anything I can to help them get that championship is the end goal.”

Programs such as Baldwin, Massapequa, Syosset and Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK moving up to Class AAA have even changed the environment of daily practices. The Jets are focused on championships.

“The energy at practice has been so much higher because we know at the end of the day, it’s a goal we can reach now,” Twible said. “There’s just much more work and much more energy. It’s been totally different this year. We know this is an opportunity like we’ve never had before.”

The other contenders

While East Meadow is off to the best start for teams that remain in Class AA, many programs that moved up from Class A to Class AA will pose a challenge to the Jets. Teams such as Mepham, MacArthur, Garden City, Roslyn, Manhasset and South Side are having strong seasons.

Some key players that figure to be in the mix for determining the Nassau Class AA champion include Ellie Pamatat (Garden City), Makayla Daube (Mepham), Madison Glasco (Roslyn) and Kyla Murphy (South Side).

Rocky Point turnaround

Rocky Point has already surpassed its win total from last season, off to a 7-1 start after going 5-15 last season. The Eagles have finished with a losing record in each season dating back to 2013, according to Newsday records, and that could certainly change this year. McKenzie Moeller (10.5 points per game) and Julia Koprowski (9.5) have set the pace for Rocky Point.

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