The race for the Suffolk Class A girls basketball championship is wide open. Several of the top teams from last season were decimated by graduation, but Kings Park wasn't one of them.
That's why Kings Park senior Jamie Romano has a great feeling about this season.
"We have high expectations this year, especially because we have everybody back," said Romano, a forward. "We're mentally in it. Our new coach has pumped us up. We communicate on and off the court. The chemistry was a big issue last year, but it's great now."
It certainly looks that way.
Romano had 12 points, nine rebounds and five assists for visiting Kings Park in a 52-24 win over a shorthanded Comsewogue team Thursday night in a Suffolk League V game. Janine Cascio and Meghan Eckel each scored 13 points for Kings Park (3-0, 2-0).
Kings Park jumped out to an 18-0 lead. Comsewogue cut it to 22-13 with 2:34 left in the first half before Cascio hit a three-pointer to spark a 9-2 run to end the first half and give the Kingsmen a 31-15 halftime lead.
Then the Kings Park defense clamped down, allowing only nine second-half points.
"Our defense won the game for us," Cascio said. "We wanted to stop [Michelle] Rubino and we took her out of it."
Said Kings Park first-year coach Tom Edmundson: "I thought we played very well. We had a plan for our defense and the girls did everything I asked. We mixed it up with a zone and man-to-man. We focused on Rubino [five points] and Cascio did a good job on her."
Comsewogue (3-3, 1-1) was supposed to be one of the better teams in Class A, but injuries have hurt it so far.
The Warriors played without three players, including two starters. Samantha Kane, who averaged 14 points last season, was hoping to return this week, but after the cast was taken off her broken foot, the doctor said it hasn't healed and she is out indefinitely. Jamie Brett and Alex Williams are both day-to-day with back injuries.
"We can't feel sorry for ourselves," Comsewogue coach Bill Lyons said. "I was looking to see if they gave up and they didn't. We just have so much inexperience. It makes it tough for Rubino and they did a good job of taking her away."
Teams haven't been able to key on one player from Kings Park. "That's what is great about this team," Romano said. "There's not one player on the floor that can't score."