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Mepham hoopsters take to the court

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A condensed season without playoffs hasn’t been a topic of conversation among the members of Mepham High School’s boys’ basketball team, which opened Feb. 10 with a 60-51 victory over New Hyde Park behind a 17-point performance from junior Robert Tansey in his varsity debut.

“I think the kids are looking at the big picture and just happy to be playing as many games as we can,” said Pirates head coach Patrick Fallon. “We played a nice opener, all things considered. The kids wore masks to the best of their ability and we’ll always put safety first.”

Mepham comes off a memorable season that included 15 wins and a trip to the Nassau Class A quarterfinals. Senior Mekhi Beckett, a third-year starter who averaged 20 points per game, is an explosive 6-foot-3 forward looking to play at the next level. Beckett earned All-County honors and sparked the Pirates’ playoff success. “He’s a very strong all-around player who can be explosive,” Fallon said.

Senior Billy Kender, a three-sport athlete who also excels as the football team’s quarterback and baseball team’s ace pitcher, steps into a starting backcourt role after contributing key minutes off the bench last winter. Senior point guard Nick Santiago shoots well from the outside and helps lead the defense, while senior forwards Rob Caminiti and Jake Davis are being counted on to contribute some points and rebounds in the paint.

On the girls’ side, Mepham didn’t tip off its season until last Friday when it traveled to Long Beach and came away with a 34-26 victory. The Pirates were led by senior Julia Rawlinson and junior Hailey Guerrero, who each scored 11 points apiece. Eighth-grader Makayla Daube impressed in her varsity debut with eight points and four blocked shots.

“We were prepared for the season to start,” said head coach Jim Mulvey. “Our district did a great job conducting intramurals. It’s a lot of everyone’s plate. We have mandatory weekly testing for Covid, but you also have to worry about other teams because not every district is doing testing.”

Rawlinson is a four-year varsity player who as a sophomore captured Conference Player of the Year honors and also has an All-County season under her belt. She’s a consistent double-digit scorer who also contributes at least five rebounds per game, Mulvey noted.

Guerrero, who earned an Honorable Mention in All-County last season, is an improved shooting guard who led the team in steals and sparks the transition offense. At the point, senior Victoria Della Croce returned with varsity experience.

Senior forward Ali Heller, who’s headed to Albany to play lacrosse at the collegiate level, is a strong defender who’s likely to get the toughest shutdown assignment every game. “That’s her job,” Mulvey said.

Junior Riley Clark, who missed the opener due to injury, came on strong last season and became an All-Conference selection. She’s a key in the paint along with junior Alanna Morse, a softball standout.