Oceanside ready for stretch run


Uncertainty surrounded the Oceanside girls’ basketball team this season after eight seniors – including four starters – graduated last spring. But instead, thanks to the consistent play of their top scorer and a tenacious defense, the Sailors are thinking playoffs.

Oceanside has positioned itself well to snap a four-year playoff drought as it enters the home stretch of the regular season thanks to a 5-4 record in Conference AA-2 play – good for fifth place – and an 8-7 mark overall. The top four teams in the conference qualify for the postseason as well as any team that has at least a .500 record against divisional opponents.

“We’re definitely performing better than expected with the plethora of the inexperienced kids that we have,” Oceanside head coach Jared Stoler said. “We’re winning the game we should be winning. We’re just trying to find that extra oomph to get over the hump and win some of those games that are close.”

But to make it, the Sailors will have to navigate their way through the top four teams in the division among the five games that remain, including Baldwin (11-1), Plainview (12-3), East Meadow (12-3) and Port Washington (7-7). They are 0-4 against those schools this season, losing by an average of over 21 points.

“It’s not going to be easy,” Stoler said. “But I know for sure we’re going to be prepared and play our absolute hearts out.”

The other game during that stretch is against Herricks (3-11), which the Sailors beat 50-39 on Jan. 11.

This Oceanside team hasn’t scored many points this season (38.5 average) but hasn’t yielded much either (37.5). The defense held Westbury scoreless the entire second half of a 52-6 rout on Dec. 14, didn’t allow a point in the first quarter to Long Beach during that win eight days later, and blanked Island Trees in the final eight minutes of a 27-21 triumph on Dec. 29.

Offensively, junior guard Brianna Amenta – the only returning starter – is leading the team with a 15.7 scoring average and has reached double digits in 13 of the first 15 games. Among them was a 22-point effort against Port Washington on Jan. 6 and three 21-point outings.

“She’s a very good scorer, but for us, she’s our point guard,” Stoler said. “She’s the one that facilitates and scores, so she’s doing a good job maturing into that role.”

Stoler is hoping a secondary scorer can emerge among Samantha Farsky (6.5) and Emma Pagano (5.8), who each had a double-digit point game this season along with fellow junior Maeve Barrins. Another junior, Grace DiDominica, led Oceanside with 16 points in a 42-38 win over Seaford on Dec. 12, but she is known more for her defensive prowess. 

“We’re looking for that No. 2 girl that we can consistently rely on,” Stoler said.

Stoler has also been pleased with senior Ariel Landa, who makes up for her lack of height with heart and a high defensive IQ and “field general” Barrins, who has played “exceptional” low-post defense.