December 06, 2006

Lady Hurricanes Set Lofty Goals

"If everybody stays healthy, we have a shot at doing some good things this year," said Westhampton girls' varsity basketball coach Mike Polan when asked about how he felt regarding his team's prospects for the 2006-07 season. "We have the team to go upstate. This is the year that we can make big things happen."

And although some may take that as a tad overconfident, it takes only a moment to glimpse at a Lady Hurricanes' practice to see the legitimate examples why Polan may be right on the money about Westhampton's championship chances.

It all starts in the middle for the Lady Hurricanes, which returns nine of their 11 players from a team that went 14-5 last season, falling to John Glenn in the class title game.

Six-two junior All-County center Kelly Cavallo was averaging double figures in both points and rebounds per game before a horrific knee injury that required surgery ended a brilliant sophomore season. If Cavallo had been healthy, Westhampton may have walked away with a county championship last season.

Now back at full strength, Cavallo, who is just five points shy of 1000 for her career, is poised for another monster year in League VI along with her sensational teammate Jen Polan. Polan, a senior point guard, was an All-League selection way back when she was just an eighth grader before upgrading to three straight All-County selections her next three seasons. She averaged 12 points per game along with a team-high seven assists per contest last season.

"She drives the bus for us and everybody else feeds off of her," said Polan, who also happens to be her father.

Five-ten senior forward Kristen Duca, the team's unsung hero, is back and brings a terrific defensive game to the Hurricanes table. Her rebounding skills are among the best on the team. "When Kelly went down, we needed someone else to score and Kristen really stepped up for us, especially in the playoffs," Polan said. Duca is a selfless leader who was an All-League selection last season.

Tenea Stilley, another 5'10 starting forward, returns after an All-League 2005-06 campaign. Stilley is an inside force, a tough rebounder and a monster shot blocker.

Junior Kate Kisssane started last season and showed a great touch from the outside for a six-footer. She's another budding star on a Westhampton team and is the tallest that Polan has ever coached.

Junior Brynn Lettieri was a starter last season and she brings skill and experience as does senior Courtney Allan, another tall player who can help with rebounding and finishing.

Mary Polan, a sophomore, is back and coach Polan calls his younger daughter, "A sniper that can knock down the open jumper to open everything up for us."

Junior Shantel Davis can shoot the ball as well, giving Westhampton another scoring option off the bench while junior Lilianne Ogeka has also displayed a strong outside shot.

Sophomore Dana Barrett plays tough defense and she rounds out the Hurricanes' impressive roster.

"I've been very fortunate to have really good athletes. It makes my job a lot easier," Polan remarked. "They're great kids. At this point, I'm trying to get them to realize how good they can be. We were doing really well [last season] with Kelly [Cavallo] and when she was injured, we still played well and went to the championship game. I need to get them back to the level that they were at last season at the end of the season. The experience that the younger players got was so important. I'm really excited. We're ready to get going."

Polan has scheduled some very challenging scrimmages against such top opponents as both Sachem schools, Massapequa and Northport. "I'm hoping with the tough non-league and scrimmage schedule, hopefully it will make our league games a little bit easier."

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