Youthful Oceanside in playoff contention


Everyone expected junior Briana Amenta to continue her stellar pace as one of the top point guards in Nassau County. But few thought Oceanside’s girls’ basketball team would be a staunch playoff contender as well. 
Afterall, Oceanside graduated 8 from last season’s sub-.500 squad. 
But last Friday, in a huge regular-season battle, Oceanside faced Port Washington in the battle for the fourth spot in Conference AA2. That will stand as the final slot to make the Nassau County playoffs. 
Despite scoring the game’s first 7 points, Oceanside wound up dropping a 43-34 decision in a seesaw game. Amenta carried the club with 22 points but it wasn’t enough as the Sailors fell to 5-6 and 2-3 in AA2. 
“Bri played her heart out and did all she could,’’ Oceanside head coach Jared Stoler said.

For Oceanside to swipe an unexpected playoff spot, it will need to find a consistent second and third scorer. For now, Stoler’s team is built on their defense and allows 35 points per game. 
“Defense is of our best aspect,’’ Amenta said. “We may not score that well but we’re limiting teams. We’re a group of really athletic girls. A lot are multi-sport athletes so they’re always going to be aggressive. That’s what we lacked last year and we have now.’’
Amenta, after starting the season slowly from 3-point range, has posted three 21-point games before her season-high versus Port Washington. She’s averaging 17 points after being All-County as a sophomore. 
“She’s a great facilitator and, when we make our shots, she gets 5 assists,’’ Stoler said. “She does all the right things, can shoot from anywhere, including 3.’’
Amenta considers herself a dangerous 3-point shooter but was misfiring early in the season before a December non-league victory over Island Trees turned her season around. “I feel like the best part of my game is my shooting but I can also handle and facilitate,’’ Amenta said. “That Island Trees game got me  back to the way I usually am shooting it.’’
Stoler hopes junior Samantha Farsky can be that second scorer in the backcourt to aid Amenta. Farsky is averaging 6 points and is strong around the rim.
Juniors Emma Pagano and Casey McCabe can also operate inside. The team has 12 juniors, 1 sophomores and just 2 seniors. “We’re still figuring out who are second and third scorers are,’’ Stoler said. “The defense has definitely been the strong suit. We’ve hit it hard, there’s been communication and hustle.”
 In a season of surprises, the biggest one has been defense-first junior guard Grace DeDominica. “She’s forced us to keep her on the floor because she’s always doing the right things,’’ Stoler said.
There’s a lot of season left and the young players are gaining experience. “I think it’s going a lot better than it could’ve,’’ said the 5-foot-5 Amenta. “It’s a whole bunch of new girls who haven’t played varsity before and they’re adjusting very well and doing their best to get better.
“I truly believe we can beat any team if we work hard enough in the game,” she added. “We may not be the best scorers but we’re so athletic we can make plays.”