December 06, 2006

Lady Baymen Battle for Respectability

"People have us at fifth or sixth in the league. That isn't what we want, we want people to know that we're going to battle teams," said Hampton Bays girls' varsity basketball head coach Dave Goodman. "Yes, we have a very tough schedule this season, but we're excited. I think we have a chance [to win] every game we play. The girls put the time in and they're continuing to work hard."

Goodman was referring to the ultra-competitive League VII schedule that awaits his Lady Baymen, which includes two games against opponents the likes of Southampton (13-5), Wyandanch (14-5), Port Jefferson (11-8) and Center Moriches (10-8) as well as against much-improved teams such as Southold (8-11) and Mattituck.

Hampton Bays returns four of its five starters from last season's team that went 6-13 overall, most notably, All-League juniors Jenna Kovar and Sami Krantz. Both players are abundantly talented and are able to play any position on the court. They'll be looked upon to finish more this season as opposed to last, where they were setting up the plays. Kovar, like Krantz, has the ability to lead the team in scoring.

Freshman point guard Samantha Carey is the "ultimate point guard," according to Goodman. "She handles the ball well and distributes it equally well. Sam can shoot and drive as well." Carey started the last seven varsity games of the season.

Five-eleven freshman Rachel Tufano, whose older sister was the mainstay in the middle of Hampton Bays' lineup for years, saw varsity action last season and is much-improved after a summer of competitive AAU ball.

Senior Marian Leeman is Hampton Bays' 5'10 center who started every game last season. She can score with both hands, rebounds well and is a strong defender. Leeman, a potential All-League selection, rounds out the Baymen's starting five.

Seniors Jamie Small, a guard and Joanna Lebkowski, a forward, both return for their third varsity season and they'll see plenty of minutes off the bench. Joining them will be sophomores Marissa Raimo, a guard/forward that is a tenacious defender, capable of making a big play when needed, along with Kait Cooper, who is one of the best shooters on the team.

At 5'8, Cooper can play both forward positions. She's described as a deadly accurate free-throw shooter and she made three of the five shots that she attempted from the field in a recent scrimmage to impress the coaching staff.

"I'm looking to run and push the ball up the floor and we have kids on the bench that can step right in and contribute to that," Goodman said. "Our strength is our depth. I really expected us to return to the playoffs last season, but we really shot horribly at times. It was very disappointing because we thought that it was going to be a successful season. We lost a lot of four and five point games and I realized that I had to do more."

So what Goodman did was help form the East End Pride AAU team along with Southampton girls' basketball coach Richard Wingfield. The Pride is an all-star team comprised of East End players ages 16 and under. All four of Hampton Bays' returning starters logged major minutes in a whopping 30 games on a team that reached the elite semi-finals this past summer.

"It definitely helped them [playing in all of those games]," said Goodman. By the end of the summer, they were really playing well."

Hampton Bays hosts the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament this Saturday where they'll play famed St. John the Baptist, the #1 team in the state. The Baymen open their league season on December 19 at home against Mattituck.

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