So as you probably already know, another Briarcliff soccer season bled into a Briarcliff basketball season. The Bears yet again dominated on the pitch, and won a second straight Class B state championship.
The basketball team matched the soccer team last year; now they’ll have to do it again.
Here’s the 411 on Briarcliff —
Anything you can do I can do better. Briarcliff, like everyone else, began its 08-09 hoops campaign eight days ago, but it didn’t truly begin until this week, when Katie Weiner, Savina and Briana Reid, and Liana Cornacchio returned to practice with their third state championship in 12 months — a remarkable achievement. Don Hamlin told me the Bears spent the previous week practicing against the JV and said the difference in practice the last couple days has been stark.
“Our athleticism ramped up in a hurry in just one day of having those four kids,” Hamlin said.
Filling in up front. Briarcliff returns all but two members of its rotation from the team that won Class B state and Federation state titles last year. The missing starters are 6-foot-1 Shelby Coon and 5-foot-11 Jamie Heyda, who were key factors, particularly on the offensive and defensive glass — an area Briarcliff simply dominated.
Coon was one of the top rebounders in the state, and she also scored in two key areas: off offensive rebounds and at the foul line. Those are the attributes Briarcliff will struggle to replace. Hamlin said he knows one play can fill Coon’s role, but he believes the Bears have the talent to do so collectively.
“We’re not really that much smaller to tell you the truth,” Hamlin said. “Losing Shelby in the middle is tough because she did a tremendous job rebounding. We will probably have to have a couple kids step, but I think we’re capable.”
One is Weiner, who has the aggressiveness to chase rebounds and the size to get them. Another is Cornacchio, a 5-foot-11 forward who played JV ball last year but was called up to join the varsity late in the year. She practiced with the varsity for two weeks and was expected to join the lineup before she suffered a torn ACL playing club soccer in Florida. (Cornacchio is a top scoring threat on the soccer team and ranks among the best scorers in the area as a sophomore.)
Of course, the Bears’ cupboard is hardly bare. Maggie Blair, who is headed to Manhattan, is back after winning MVPs in both state tournaments. She is joined by sharp-shooter Taylor Pescetti, who made some of the biggest shots of the season last year, both at the County Center and beyond.
They also return the Reid twins, who played integral roles defensively and proved to complement one another well. Another returning sophomore, Kasey Heyda, Jamie’s little sister, showed flashes and is expected to become an even bigger contributor in the front court.
My bad. I made a mistake about transfer Laura Krey, who won’t be eligible to play this season. Krey is from Mamaroneck and is therefore ineligible to play basketball this season. I erred when I stated last week that Briarcliff was her home district. She can’t begin play with the Bears until 2009-10.
Still the favorite. All in all, Briarcliff is easily the favorite to win Class B again, with teams like Irvington and Nanuet the closest contenders and Woodlands looming as a scary potential matchup. (Just ask Hamlin…)
Last thing: The Bears have a challenging non-league schedule to keep an eye on:
— at Scarsdale, Dec. 4th
— at Pearl River, Dec. 9th
— vs. Albertus Magnus, Jan. 6th
— at Nanuet, Jan. 30th