Just prior to Thanksgiving, Mepham boys’ basketball head coach Bob Kaible was still settling into his new gig after nearly a decade coaching the Island Trees girls’ team. While he was still trying to find the right formula for the Pirates, it wasn’t lost on him that he inherited a deep roster of talented athletes.
Among them, Kaible was well aware of the reputation of senior guard Robert Tansey, and that was immediately confirmed during opening tryouts. Kaible said he was struck by the guard’s court presence both on and off the ball, as well as his shooting range. “He’s going to carry a lot of the scoring for us,” the coach said.
He also lauded the versatility of his other signature players, including sophomore Kieran Kehoe, who he expects to carry much of the workload offensively alongside Tansey. “I can see him being a force for us,” said Kaible. “This year, but more so in the years to come.”
Junior Kevin Perry stands as one the team’s tallest players at 6’5”, and Kaible said he expects him to do much of the rim protection and rebounding. Mitch Savalli, an athletic sophomore, also projects to pad the stat sheet and has stood out to Kaible as a hustler and natural leader.
With a relatively young squad, Kaible expressed excitement over the return of senior Timmy Burns, who has missed time with an ACL tear. “Kids look up to him,” he said. “He’s a gritty guy who knows what he is doing on the court.”
Kaible said he wants his team’s M.O. to be its defensive intensity and rebounding. “We want to play extremely hard,” he said “Push the ball in transition a lot. Wear on some teams that may not have the depth we have. I’m really enthusiastic about the type of kids we have.”
In his 18 years coaching the program, Jim Mulvey said he can’t recall having a team with three college-bound Division-1 athletes – only none of them will be playing basketball.
It was part of a successful recruitment effort to tap into the school’s successful fall and spring programs to lure students into honing their basketball skills this winter. “These kids play other sports, which I love,” he said.
That starts with senior guard Hailey Guerrero, an All-County junior last year who will be playing Division-1 softball at Stony Brook next fall. “She’s a quiet leader,” said Mulvey, noting her two-way skills as a strong defender. “We’re going to rely a lot on her this year.”
Another Division-1 bound senior is Alanna Morse, who Mulvey hopes will return in January after breaking her wrist before tryouts began. She, too, is a softball star who will stay local at Hofstra.
Guerrero and Morse will share the captainship with senior Riley Clark, who will be the team’s big presence inside this season and a top rebounder.
Perhaps the most athletic of the bunch, said Mulvey, is Luciana Setteducate, who will lace up her soccer cleats for Stony Brook next year. “She’s just a workhorse,” the coach said, “she will do anything defensively.”
Rounding out the starting five will be freshman Makayla Daube and sophomore Ashley Felsberg. Seniors Kerri Hatcliffe, Kayla Weber and Kaitlyn Smith will also be impact players off the bench.
Coaching a team of proven athletes will allow Mulvey to play an up-tempo style and eases his worry that his players can handle high-pressure situations. “We’re trying to do more skill work with these athletes to get them up and down the court,” said Mulvey. “It’s an attitude, effort and energy team. They’re just great kids that care about each other.”