Red Hook girls basketball setting up for season

Defending champs face challenges looking to repeat in Section 9

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The 2011-2012 season was something of a storybook one for Red Hook girls basketball.

After going 13-5 and torching the division as an underdog, Red looked set to dismantle 17-0 John A. Coleman in the MHAL championship game. No dice — Coleman put down the Lady Raiders, 57-45. But Red went on to claim the Section 9 title after roasting top-seeded Cornwall in the Section 9 Class A championship game. It was the team’s first section title in six years.

Chalk up a lot of the success to head coach Pam White, who guided the undersized Red Hook squad to their section title.

Becky Fildes, Sienna O’Han, Ye-Shin Tsumagari and Brenna Couture, major contributors to the team’s title run, have all graduated. Tsumagari, in particular, was a surefire, go-to point guard in 2011-12. And starting center and strong rebounder Emily Avis is in Thailand for an exchange program this year.

“The seniors from last year will be hard to replace, but our team has worked hard in the off-season and we hope to be as competitive this season as we were last season,” Coach White told the Observer. “Last season, no one picked us to win the section and we were determined from the first day of practice to get our name on the banner in the gym for winning the sectionals in 2012.”

White isn’t too disappointed about not taking home the MHAL hardware. “The MHAL championship is one goal, but ultimately winning the sectional title is what will enable our team to continue on into post-season play,” she said.

Red certainly won’t be the underdog coming into this season. White’s team will be playing under higher pressure now, after grabbing the Section title and contending in the MHAL championship.

White told the Observer that her team’s best attributes will be “speed and grittiness.” She also hopes for the Lady Raiders “to be the defensive team and best-conditioned team in the league.”

To do that, she added, “we will need to improve on boxing out and rebounding. We are not an overly tall team, so we will need to focus on going to the boards consistently and going hard. Rebounding and defense will be one of our keys to success.”

The team will be adding senior Ashley Pica, junior Kelsey Decker, sophomores Shannon Yearwood, Marist Parr and Lauren Marici, freshmen Ciara Burud and Tessa Stortini, and eighth grader Jessica Wilkinson to the varsity roster in 2012-13. White said that she has not yet established a starting five.

“Our team is working very hard and will be exciting to watch this season. We hope that our community and high school students will come out and support us,” White said.

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