Basketball Teams Look to Be Competitive This Season

The Whalers’ coach, Kevin Barron, is presumably hoping that Kasey Gilbride, left, will come up big for the Pierson girls basketball team. James Hewitt was one of several Bonackers to put up shots from beyond the arc in Monday’s scrimmage here with Bridgehampton. Jack Graves

       “I think they may have had the better of it,” Howard Wood, who coaches East Hampton High School’s girls basketball team, said following Saturday morning’s scrimmage here with Pierson-Bridgehampton.

       The Whalers, with Kasey Gilbride, a guard, and Erica Selyukova, a strong inside player, in their lineup — having just a few days before won a state championship in field hockey — ought to be competitive (as ought to be East Hampton, which was missing three key players Saturday).

       Kevin Barron, Pierson’s coach, said Pierson’s competition primarily would come this season from Port Jefferson, Southold, and Stony Brook.

       As for East Hampton, the players won’t be looking for Kaelyn Ward anymore inasmuch as she’s at Dowling now (though not playing). Courtney Dess, another tough player, was another June graduate.

       “They’ve really been responding — we always have 10 for practices, which we didn’t last year,” the former pro said of his present crew, which includes Jackie Messemer, Carley Seekamp, Emma Newburger, Sophia DePasquale, Madison Aldrich, Jenna Budd, and Abby Ross, a transfer from Shelter Island.

       Wood added that he was happy to have Kelly McKee, a veteran coach, as his assistant. “It’s good to have a new eye, a new perspective every now and then.”

       The team is to play in a tournament at Hampton Bays tomorrow and Saturday.

       East Hampton’s boys team, coached by Bill McKee, assisted by Bob Vacca, ought to be competitive this winter as well, but, as McKee told his charges at Saturday’s practice, there won’t be much time to prepare: East Hampton will have played three league games before the Christmas break begins Dec. 20.

       There are 12 on the squad, five of them seniors who saw plenty of action last winter — Thomas Nelson, Brendan Hughes, Danny McKee, David Moss, and Charles Barranco.

       Zach Tilstra, who played on the junior varsity in his sophomore year, is another senior. Ryan Bono, Brandon Neff, and James Hewitt, a 6-foot-2-inch Montauker who has not played since junior high, are juniors. There are two sophomores — Brandon Kennedy-Gay and Kyle McKee — and a freshman, Kevin Fee.

       The boys were to have scrimmaged Bridgehampton here Monday and the Ross School here Tuesday. Pierson is to play a nonleaguer here Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

       “Last year, we had a lot of very close games, and I expect it may be the same this year,” said McKee, “though I hope we don’t have to play in as many overtimes. We had three last year.”

       Thomas King, who has graduated, was the go-to guy last season. “I think we should have pretty balanced scoring this year,” said the coach. “We don’t have an overly big lineup, but there are number of guys who can shoot well, and — the best part — they’re pretty unselfish.”

       McKee and Vacca took their charges to Connecticut over the Nov. 23-24 weekend to see a big-time college tournament at the Mohegan Sun’s arena. “U.N.C. upset Louisville in the final,” he said. “Mitchell College in New London let us practice there Saturday morning.”

       Amityville, last year’s league and county champion, is again favored to win League VI, said the coach. Other teams in the league (East Hampton was the runner-up last year, at 7-5) are Mount Sinai, Miller Place, John Glenn, Shoreham-Wading River, and Bayport-Blue Point.

       Amityville and John Glenn will probably, because of a recent geographical realignment, not be on the schedule next year — to be replaced by Rocky Point and, possibly, Sayville. But meanwhile, said McKee, “it’s great to play home and home with a team like Amityville.”