HARRISON, N.Y. – The first week of basketball practice for the Harrison varsity girls was unlike any other and quite tiring, lone senior Ali Menniti says.
“We did a lot of conditioning to get ourselves into shape because we are changing the way we are playing this year,” Menniti said during a break. “We are going to push the ball up court this year.”
Menniti said Harrison will go with an up-tempo game because many of last year's seniors, led by Shawn Caporale, were tall.
Menniti is one of five returning players. She is joined by juniors Paige Brabant and Kyle Lefkowitz, sophomore Gabriella Morris and freshman Gia Mancini. The Huskies also welcome eight energetic, enthusiastic and talented players from the junior varsity. They include juniors Jordan Riddle and Marissa Goldstein, who headline the new players, sophomores Alexandra Franco, Erica Dattero, Gianna Cassavecca, Alexis Shannon and Julia Solz and freshman Jessica Scazzaro.
Menniti and her teammates bonded quickly, especially after the conditioning drills. Menniti said it was important for the team to gel quickly because of the new system.
“We’ve learned how to play and get the ball up the court fast so we can outrun our bigger opponnts,” said Menniti, the starting goalie on Harrison’s successful field hockey team.
The Huskies have been running in their scrimmages and, following a rough start, have made the adjustment, Menniti said.
“We all had to adjust to everyone’s game,” Menniti said. “In our last couple of scrimmages we played pretty good. We were playing together and unselfishly.”
A major adjustment Menniti has also had to make is being the only senior and team leader.
“It is weird, because last year I was so used to playing with everyone who was older than me and they were letting me know what I needed to do,” Menniti said. “Now I have to lead by example.”
Harrison opens the season with its tournament Thursday. The Huskies play Saunders at 7 p.m.
“I am really excited to see how we are going to do this season,” Menniti said. “We have the potential. Even though we’re a small team, we want to show we can do big things.
“We’re the underdogs, like we were in field hockey. We lost a lot of good players, but we want to show more than what teams will expect from us this season.”