West Hempstead relies on defense


When the 2012-13 girls’ basketball season began, West Hempstead head coach Chris Van Kovics knew consistently putting the ball in the basket could be a problem. He was right. 

The Rams still haven’t found their stride on the offensive end, and their record stands at 4-4 overall, 2-2 in Nassau Conference A-IV play after a 32-29 come-from-behind victory over Roosevelt. Seven girls scored, but nobody was able to reach double figures in the win.

Despite the inability to find the bottom of the net, Van Kovics remains an optimist. “We’re watching a lot of film, practicing hard, and we have the right attitude, but we’re just not getting consistent scoring,” Van Kovics said. “As always, there’s a blueprint to follow. We need to take care of the basketball, get better looks from the perimeter, and make the easy ones in the paint. Hopefully, it will start to click.”

The season got off on a high note as West Hempstead won two of its first three games. In a 33-25 win over Great Neck North, the Rams got a game-high 14 points from junior Nicole Christenson as they earned their first win after an opening night loss to Manhasset. 

The next time the Rams took the floor, they faced a scrappy, young Malverne five. Nicole (11 points) and Jackie Christenson (10) led West Hempstead to a 43-31 victory. The Rams took at 10-point lead at the half and never looked back.

After getting soundly defeated by Glen Cove, West Hempstead got back in the win column with a narrow 44-41 win over Clarke. Again, it was the Christenson sisters leading the charge, as Nicole scored a season-high 21 points and Jackie scored 10. Nicole was 9-for-15 from the foul line.

The Rams squandered a big lead, and their trouble on offense was on display in a heartbreaking 43-37 home loss to Valley Stream North. Leading by nine entering the final quarter, the Rams could muster only four points in the final eight minutes. Jackie Christenson scored 22 points to lead all scorers, but she was held scoreless in the fourth quarter.

In the win over Roosevelt, sophomore Kayla Cleare scored six points in her varsity debut as the Rams pulled out the victory despite struggling mightily from the free-throw line. West Hempstead hit just 9 of 27 foul shots. Jackie Tartaglia added six points. Hard-working Taylor Friermuth’s toughness was one of the keys in the win.

Van Kovics hopes his team will continue to get it done on defense, and the offense will improve. “We’ve done a good job at holding teams down, and shutting down the opponent’s top scorer, but we need to find more scoring,” Van Kovics said. “I believe if we limit the opponent’s opportunities, and get a little more consistent on offense, we could have a good second half of the season.”

West Hempstead is back home Jan. 18 when Clarke visits for a 6:30 p.m. start.