After losing several of its starting players to graduation last June, the Huntington High School girls’ basketball team is regrouping. The Blue Devils are in the midst of playing a short fall league schedule as head coach Mike Kaplan works to configure a winning combination for the winter.
Kaplan’s first six seasons in Huntington have produced three league titles and a pair of trips to the Suffolk Final Four, including a loss in the 2015 Class AA final to Commack. The Blue Devils are 86-33 over that span for a winning percentage of .723.
Huntington went 9-10 in Kaplan’s first season, losing in the Suffolk playoff outbracket. The team finished 7-11 the following year and failed to reach the postseason. Since then the Blue Devils have reeled off records of 13-6, 20-1, 21-1 and 16-4 and won a pair of League IV crowns and the League III co-championship last winter.
Starters Brooke Baade, Katie Reilly and Taylor Moreno all graduated following last season so Kaplan has had to reshuffle the deck. The returning varsity players have been tuning up for many months. The Blue Devils played in a summer league and are halfway through the fall league. Players are also engaged in individual training programs.
Returnees include seniors Anna Gulizio, Emma Petrizzi, Tara Wilson, Torre Palmer and Shannon Maloney, juniors Niamh Condon, Alexandra Heuwetter and Katie Seccafico and freshmen Megan Byrnes and Abigail Maichin.
Heuwetter earned All-League and All-Conference honors last winter. Maichin grabbed the Rookie of the Year Award. Kaplan expects to put a strong team on the court again this winter.
“I’m really excited about this season,” said Gulizio, who is expected to be the squad’s floor general. “I love the team and all the girls and I’m really excited to be back in the gym. We’re going to have another great season.”
The season will officially get underway on Monday, November 14 when tryouts will be held for the varsity and junior varsity teams. The Blue Devils will travel to scrimmages at Northport (November 26) and Walt Whitman (December 1) before hosting Cold Spring Harbor in the final scrimmage on December 5.
Kaplan has scheduled six non-league games against Glen Cove (December 7), Deer Park (December 9), Holy Trinity (December 13), Amityville (December 15), East Islip (December 28) and Kellenberg (December 30). All six contests will be played at home in Louis D. Giani Gymnasium.
Home and away Suffolk League III games are set with Centereach, North Babylon, West Islip, Copiague, Newfield, Smithtown East and Smithtown West. The Blue Devils will honor their seniors on February 9 at home prior to the regular season finale against Smithtown East.
“I’m so excited for the season to start,” Petrizzi said. “It would be really cool to win a fourth consecutive league championship in my last year on the team.”
Kaplan’s staff includes varsity assistant Marissa Bergman Kaplan and JV coach Frederick Vasselman. The trio has been meeting about the program and developing plans for the season.
“I’m looking forward to the start of practice,” Seccafico said. “We have all been working hard in the off-season. We are hoping to have a great year and continue the successful Huntington girls’ basketball tradition.”
Can Kaplan notch his 100th career victory this winter? It’s possible. One thing is for sure: Players are fully committed to working hard in an effort to win Huntington’s fourth straight league title.