Coming off a season that yielded a conference championship and a run to the quarterfinal round of the Nassau Class A playoffs, Sewanhaka entered the 2012-13 basketball season looking to continue to move up among the ranks of the elite teams in the county.
With some new personnel, and wearing the proverbial bull’s eye on their back that comes with success, the Lady Indians have undergone some growing pains, but seem to be on the way to another solid season. After a 44-35 non-league win over Syosset last Friday, the Lady Indians are 6-4 overall, 4-1 in Conference A-II. Senior Shantell McCall scored eight points, pulled down 13 rebounds, and dished out six assists to lead the way.
Head coach Alex Soupios likes the direction his team is going. “It’s taken some time for the girls to get used to playing with one another, but we’re starting to hit our stride,” Soupios said. “We have some girls who are starting for the first time, and others who are getting their first taste of varsity basketball. We haven’t fired on all cylinders as of yet. It’s a learning process. You never want to peak too early. I think we’re coming together at the right time.”
After dropping back-to-back contests to Floral Park and Division, both in heartbreaking fashion, the Lady Indians have won three straight games. In a 67-43 victory over Glen Cove, McCall had a game-high 19 points, and freshman forward Casey Hayes scored 15 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Sophomore Michelle Niles added 14 points in the win.
Soupios is impressed with Niles. “Michelle is one of those girls who works incredibly hard, and plays year round,” Soupios said. “She has stepped up considerably, and has become a terrific outside threat for us. She’s a big part of the present and the future for us.” Niles leads the team with 15 three-point baskets on the year, including four in the win over Glen Cove.
McCall, who leads the team with 12 points per game, has been a rock for Sewanhaka. A switch from guard to forward has not only enabled McCall to attack defenses from a different vantage point, it’s allowed her to be a presence on the offensive boards, and to set up teammates for easy looks in the paint. Jenny Pechacek has come alive of late for the Lady Indians. The junior guard has scored 10 points in back-to-back games.
Soupios believes much of the credit for Sewanhaka’s success should go to its feeder program, the St. Vincent de Paul CYO. “Nearly every girl on the team started out playing ball at St. Vincent,” Soupios said. “Without the support of the local CYO program, there’s no way that we would we having as much success as we’ve had. It’s a very important part of our program’s growth. I’m very fortunate and grateful to have a strong feeder program.”
The Lady Indians host Great Neck North this Friday at 4:30 p.m.