2011-12-02 / Sports

Young Talent Emerges For Reigning Champions

By Elio Velez

The first girls basketball championship banner for Scholars’ Academy hangs proudly inside the school’s gymnasium.

The Seawolves earned the PSAL B city championship last season and also qualified for the State Federation tournament. But the core group of those players which led Scholars to a title is gone.

Scholars’ displayed they still have plenty of young talent to work with on Tuesday night at home in a 62-6 victory over Far Rockaway in the Queens B East season opener..

The only major notable players returning are junior guard Taylor Gallagher and sophomore Jessica Glaz. Seawolves coach Janet Kleiner knows she has to integrate some new players, who while talented, still need time to jell.

“You can’t measure this year compared to what we did last year. We can savor last year, but this is now. This is a more competitive division,” Kleiner said. “I just want to see this team improve every day in one facet of the game, it becomes contagious to everyone else.”

Rebecca Moers, Kristin Dchiutiis and Fallon Mullen were some of he player who had helped build the program from a developmental team all the way to city champions. They have all since graduated.

The scoring will fall on two players who contributed to last year’s title squad. Gallagher, who led the team with 19 point son Tuesday, can do a bit of everything on the floor. Glaz had a good freshman campaign off the bench by scoring 12 points and averaging 6 rebounds.

“Jessie and Taylor really have to quarterback the team this year. It’s not anything about last year,” Kleiner said. ”It’s their experience from last year and brining that energy this season to all the new girls.”

Kleiner is excited to have a group of players who are hungry to compete. Freshman Emma Michaels, who scored 13 points, is an athletic player who shined as the starting setter for the volleyball team that made the B semifinals.

Sophomore Kayla Nolan and freshman Serena Yanelo might see plenty of time together in the backcourt. Carmela Hopkins and Sabrine Fortuna Hazel will provide rebounding and hopefully add some offensive punch later on.

Talks of winning a championship are curbed somewhat at Scholars’ Academy. But the idea of winning a division title and making a deep run in the playoffs is certainly encouraged.

“I see the energy and commitment,” Kleiner said. “I have 11 out of 12 underclassmen who are going to be the nucleus of the team that I will have for two or three more years.” Work In Progress At Far Rock

First-year coach Michael Citron kept his enthusiasm and support towards his team despite the lopsided score.

The Lady Seahorses are going to be a work in progress and Citron knows it. Starting point guard Francheska Ramirez and junior Rosaley Johnson are the only two players with prior varsity basketball experience. Sade Smith, who had 4 of their 6 points, has a lot of athletic ability according to Citron, but has not played organized basketball.

The new cach hopes to accentuate those positives and assemble a young team in the e next two to three years into a playoff team. “It’s a work in progress,” Citron said. “I think once we get our strategies and learn the offense, we’ll get better. “My goal is to improve. If we win a game, I’m thrilled. I’m trying to teach them what it means to be a varsity athlete,” Citron said.

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