SHRUB OAK, N.Y. – Lakeland is coming off a season where they recorded a playoff victory, as the No. 14 seed in the Section 1 Class A Tournament, with a 59-25 win against No. 19 Saunders in the out-bracket round before falling at No. 3 Byram Hills 67-34 in the opening round.
The Hornets enter this season without one of the best to ever play at the school, the graduated Alexa Cole. She scored more than 1,000 career points while earning the prestigious Con Ed Scholar-Athlete Award.
“Alexa was a fantastic role model for the younger girls in our program and they learned a lot from her leadership and work ethic,” said Lakeland sixth-year coach Miranda Mangan, whose team was 10-12 a year ago. “It’s definitely going to be a well-rounded team effort (to replace Cole’s production).”
Looking to help replace Cole’s production are seniors: forward Brianna Monte (5 feet, 10 inches), guard Sofia Portante (5 feet, 5 inches) and guard Megan Jennings (5 feet, 5 inches); juniors: guard Amanda Cole (5 feet, 9 inches) (Alexa’s sister), guard Sarah Pinkowsky (5 feet, 8 inches) and guard Ava Pagliaro (5 feet, 6 inches); and sophomores: guard Tyler Hormazabal (5 feet, 7 inches) and guard Hannah Devane (5 feet, 9 inches).
Monte, Portante and Jennings are the Hornets’ captains.
“We expect them to always demand the best from themselves and their teammates,” Mangan said of her captains. “They all have such different personalities and fill different roles on our team, so I think it’s going to be the perfect mix for successful leadership on and off the court.”
Newcomers this season are junior guard Nancy Pagliaroli (5 feet, 7 inches) who was a member of the Hornets’ Class A state field hockey championship squad this fall, forward Nicole Haughney (5 feet, 9 inches), guard Eddie Vivanco (5 feet, 5 inches), guard Angelina Ameneiros (5 feet, 7 inches), and eighth-grade guard Nichole Ljuljic (5 feet, 5 inches) are Lakeland’s newcomers this season.
“We return a core group of players that saw a lot of action last season, mixed with talented youth,” Mangan said. “We hope to have a balanced scoring attack and use our versatility on defense to make up for our lack of size.”
Mangan said that there are always high expectations for the girls.
“But most importantly we want them to learn how they can contribute to the team in a positive way,” Mangan said. “We want them to work hard to become better basketball players but also enjoy themselves and the experiences that come from being a part of a team.”
Lakeland begins the season at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3, at Nyack. Mangan said that the key to getting off to a good start this season will be “Patience, communication and non-stop effort.”
The Hornets will follow their trip to Rockland County by hosting the Relay for Life Tournament in their home opener at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, against Carmel in an opening-round contest.
Putnam Valley will play Clarkstown North in the first game at 4:30 p.m.
The consolation and championship games are scheduled for 1:45 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7.
The annual Giglio Games also highlights the schedule, with the Hornets making the short trip to sister school Walter Panas for a 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, tip-off.