DIX HILLS, New York, December 4
BY: Andrew Wroblewski
Basketball season is almost upon us and the girls from Half Hollow Hills high schools East and West prepared for that on Saturday with a tune-up scrimmage at Hills West.
First-year head coach for the Thunderbirds Adam Cirnigliaro – former assistant coach for Northport High School’s boys basketball team – saw the scrimmage as a simple workout for his girls as they prepare for the regular season.
Those girls, led by Kristen McKenzie who is one year removed from All-Conference honors, are hoping to capitalize on their previous season where they took home a League II title.
“It’s big to have that experience, coming from a team that won the league title last year,” Cirnigliaro said. “They’ve gotten the experience; now it’s time for these kids to step into the leadership role themselves.”
Along with McKenzie, the Thunderbirds bring back Aliyah Minor, who was an All-League player last year; Danielle Lulley, a four-year varsity player; Tiffany Coleman, a senior; and Hayley Cohen, another senior.
Mesha Rivers, who suffered an ACL injury last season, is expected to break out this year, Cirnigliaro said, as the Thunderbirds’ junior starting point guard. Rivers was nursing an ankle injury after Saturday’s scrimmage, but Cirnigliaro is hoping it won’t keep her out for an extended time.
“As far as specific goals, I don’t think we have one – we’re not judging the season on any one goal like winning the league or making a playoff run,” Cirnigliaro said. “Do we want to accomplish that? Of course we do, but this team is very different than last year… and is going to have to fight for everything they earn.”
On the other half of the court, the Colts – led by Head Coach Stefanie Mouzakes – appear to be a defensively-minded squad with size and a couple of sharpshooters. It seemed as if the Colts were ironing out some problems with communication and properly running their offense on Saturday, but Mouzakes was there step-by-step to help her girls through it.
Mouzakes wasn’t available for comment prior to press time Monday, but the Colts will start regular season play with a nonleague game at home against Connetquot on Dec. 8. Likewise, the Thunderbirds start their season on Friday with a trip to Longwood at 4:15 p.m.
Originally published: Long Islander News: Half Hollow Hills
(Thursday, December 4, 2014; A28)