The Southold First Settlers reached the Suffolk County Class C girls basketball final last season, and their coach, Dennis Reilly, firmly believes his team can return to the title game.
“I expect us to be there again,” Reilly said. “We can be that good.”
The First Settlers lost three starters from last year’s 11-10 team to graduation. But Reilly said that the turnout of 23 players for this season’s varsity and junior varsity teams was “outstanding.”
Reilly will count on a trio of co-captains in senior guard Sarah Smith, junior forward Lauren Ficurilli and sophomore forward Melissa Rogers to lead the way.
Smith is Southold’s most experienced scorer. Reilly said, “I expect Sarah to produce on offense.”
While Ficurilli and Rogers are solid defensive players and good rebounders, Reilly said, “I think they will also get us some more points this season.”
Although the First Settlers have been working on their conditioning, Reilly is also emphasizing scoring.
“We are not a tall team, so shooting is important,” he said. “We are doing shooting drills and working on fastbreak layups.”
Over the past few days, Southold has been working on its defense as well.
“The key to a good offense is getting some stops defensively,” Reilly said. “We’re working on defensive aspects and philosophies. We’re working on getting the rebound and transitioning to offense.”
The First Settlers will open their non-league schedule on Dec. 7 at Hauppauge. Reilly said that experienced teams like the Bishop McGann-Mercy Monarchs and The Stony Brook School Bears will be a test for Southold.
“We’re young and there are a lot of things we need to work on, but the potential is there,” Reilly said. “A lot of these kids have played together since their CYO days. They’ve always been successful. But they still have a lot to work on to be competitive on the varsity level.”
“Once we come together, it will really gear us up for the league season,” Reilly continued. “It will all come down to desire and how much do we want it? It will all come down to how much we put into it.”