East Hampton girls start basketball season strong

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
East Hampton - posted Tue., Jan. 7, 2014
Morgan Slossberg controls the ball for East Hampton during a Jan. 4 game against Old Lyme. Photos by Melanie Savage.
Morgan Slossberg controls the ball for East Hampton during a Jan. 4 game against Old Lyme. Photos by Melanie Savage.

After a win against Old Lyme on Jan. 4, the East Hampton varsity girls’ basketball team remained undefeated for 2014. “We have been able to get off to a good start this season and have played well so far,” said head coach Shaun Russell, remaining cautiously optimistic.  “It is very early in the year and we hope to continue to improve individually and collectively in all areas of the game,” said Russell. Due to enrollment, the team was bumped up from Class S to Class M this year, but “I do not feel it will have any impact on us during the regular season,” said Russell.

The team graduated two very experienced, four-year varsity players last year – Klaudia Komarnicka and Adrianna Zawodniak – and returns four starters: sophomores Morgan Slossberg, Renée Radavich and Meghan Orbann, and junior Leah Coughlin. Senior captains Megan Close and Taryn McCabe “have a lot of experience and are excellent role players for us,” said Russell.

Also returning are juniors Emma Pellegrino and Emily Weber. Additonal returning sophmores are Nicole DeMartino, Natalie Moon and Sarah Massie (who missed all of last season due to an injury). Junior Whitney Rubega returns to the varsity rotation this year after a year away from the program. Freshman Gyanna Russell “will also figure prominently in the varsity team picture,” said Russell. Freshmen Sarah Vickery and Jenna DeMartino “have shown early promise as well,” he added.

“Our strengths this year should be defense, rebounding and depth, plus a lot of experience gained last year by the returning players,” said Russell. “We have a nice mix of players who each bring different skill sets but fit the overall team make-up well.”

Looking ahead in the season, Russell said, ”This year the Shoreline Conference is very strong from top to bottom, as almost every team has improved from a year ago. Every night is a difficult test.”

A big win early in the season was Hyde, “which is a very difficult place to win,” said Russell. Also early tests were a big rivalry game with Portland and two very physical games with Wilbur Cross and Old Lyme, said the coach. “We have the same respect for all of our opponents and approach each game with the same importance,” said Russell.

Asked about an upcoming game against Morgan (Jan. 6), Russell said, “Morgan is one of the better teams if not the best team in the conference, and they will present a very difficult challenge for us in every way.” Cromwell, as the defending conference and state champions, would also present a challenge.  “Haddam-Killingworth, Coginchaug, Old Saybrook and Hyde are all very good,” said Russell. “We still have two rivalry games with Hale-Ray and another game with Portland as well as tough games at North Branford and Westbrook.”

Asked about the team’s strengths, Russell cited defense, competing on the boards and taking care of the ball. “Hopefully our depth will be a strength and improve as the season goes on,” he said. “We have been working hard daily on all the little things required in winning: competing, communicating, good ball movement, team defense and attention to detail.”

Early in the season, the coach has been very impressed with the play of both point guards, Renee Radavich and Whitney Rubega. Russell said that Morgan Slossberg has led by example and both Sarah Massie and Meghan Orbann are emerging as leaders on the floor and are both playing very well.

Russell said that senior co-captains Megan Close and Taryn McCabe have been great in every way so far. “I have been very pleased with their effort and leadership. I expect them both to play vital roles all season for us.”

A successful season will require “great togetherness, competitiveness and toughness,” said Russell. “We must remain focused on us and concentrate on how we do things and play for each other.”

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