By Gavin Menu; photography by Michael Heller
The majority of players on the Pierson-Bridgehampton girls basketball team competed on a fall sports team this year and enter the winter in great physical shape, according to head coach Kevin Barron. Their conditioning will be key, he said, as one thing will be a constant during the upcoming season.
The Lady Whalers are going to run, press and then run some more.
“One of our goals is to be the top defense in the league this year,” said Barron, who is entering his sophomore season at the helm of the program. “Judging by our players and our personnel, I think that’s going to be our strong suit. And I can tell they’re already in shape.”
Barron’s fast-paced style of game emphasizes fast breaks and pressure defense, which are perfectly designed, he said, for senior guards and co-captains May Evjen and Eilis Sheil, who played volleyball and soccer, respectively, during the fall season. Barron said Evjen has improved from last season, and that Sheil will be an offensive and defensive threat for the Lady Whalers.
“She’s focused on basketball all offseason,” Baron said about Sheil. “She’s going to be a very strong offensive threat for us and a leader.”
The team’s co-captains will be complimented in the backcourt by the school’s top overall female athlete in Kasey Gilbride, their fellow senior who recently led the Pierson field hockey team to its first-ever state championship.
Barron pointed to a key rule change that will go into affect with girls basketball this season that gives teams ten seconds to pass half court, a rule that is already used in the boys game.
“So you’re probably going to see a lot more teams in a full court press,” Barron said. “We did that anyway last year, but now we’re hoping to get more turnovers off it.”
Barron said the weakness of last year’s team, which scored just 22 points in a Class C semifinal playoff loss to Stony Brook, was its offensive production. The Lady Whalers had the second best defense in the league last year, but graduated eight seniors, meaning this year’s team will ultimately have a different look.
“Last year we had some games where we just couldn’t score,” Barron said. “We have to click more offensively.”
Leading the way on the offensive end will be All-League senior forward Bridget Canavan, who led the team in scoring during each of the last three seasons and is coming off a successful campaign alongside Evjen on the volleyball court. Senior forward Ashley Nill sophomore Erica Selyukova are key players as well.
Senior forward Sydney Mitchell, senior guard Sol Varela, juniors Zoe Diskin and Meg Schiavoni and freshman Isabel Peters will all fill rolls off the bench, according to their head coach.
The team will start its season with two straight non-league home games, the first of which is scheduled for December 4 at 6:15 p.m. against Westhampton Beach. Center Moriches will travel to Sag Harbor for a 10 a.m. game on December 7 and the League VIII season will begin at home on December 9 at 6:15 p.m. against Port Jefferson.
“We actually have a pretty tough schedule,” Barron said. “We have eight non-league games. It’s going to be nice getting that prep against better competition going into the league season.”