Nearing the midway mark of the Conference AA-1 girls’ basketball schedule, Oceanside will need to make a complete turnaround to get into the Nassau Class AA playoff conversation.
Head coach Jared Stoler, who believes the Lady Sailors are committing routine mistakes they can fix and are better than they’ve shown, said a combination of 31 missed layups and 22 turnovers in a 51-18 loss to Massapequa on Jan. 8 was an aberration.
“Things are certainly tough right now but nobody is giving up,” Stoler said. “Maybe with the exception of Syosset, every team in our conference has strengths and weaknesses. We came into the season with very little varsity experience and we still have time to get things together.”
Oceanside’s offense is quite different compared to recent history when Jamie Behar was an integral part of the program. Behar, who had about 1,400 career points, decided to attend Long Island Lutheran for her senior year of high school. “It’s a different dynamic without Jamie but she’s doing well at Lu-Hi and we wish her nothing but the best,” Stoler said. “We’ve had to amend some strategies without her.”
Guard/forward Gina Contorno, one of the team’s four senior captains and coming off an impressive season of her own, returned as Oceanside’s most experienced and accomplished performer. She was named captain by Stoler and assistant coach Harvey Pyser and is its leading scorer through 10 games (2-8) at 14.8 ppg. “Gina plays with so much passion,” Stoler said. “She’s our leader in a lot of ways.”
Contorno has enjoyed games of 20, 19, 18 and 17 points. She’s sharing some of the point guard responsibilities with junior Gabby Modzelewski, who was pressed into starting action last season and performed admirably. “Gabby can handle the ball and she aggressively attacks the rim,” Stoler said.
Junior Jackie Sailer is showing flashes at center in her third varsity season. She missed a chunk of her sophomore campaign due to injury, Stoler said. “She’s supremely talented and showing signs of breaking out,” he noted. “We’re just looking for a little more consistency.” Sailer scored a season-high 14 points in a 63-49 defeat at Freeport on Dec. 17. Oceanside trailed that game by just one heading into the fourth quarter.
Junior Jenna Morgan has improved her overall game and earned her way into the starting lineup. The same goes for eighth-grader Brianna Amenta, who had a career-high 14 points in a non-league loss to Kennedy last month. Other key contributors have been Emma Amthor, Emily Seaver, Julie Strianese, Natalie Medugno and Samantha Reyer.
Amthor, Seaver and Brielle Nolan, all seniors, were voted captains by their teammates prior to the season-opening win over Long Beach.
“One of the best things about this team is depth,” Stoler said. “We have a lot of guards, but we can still mix and match.”
The second half of AA-1 play begins Jan. 24 at home against Freeport. “We’ll be ready, no doubt,” Stoler said.