The Wantagh girls basketball team is in the midst off a successful 2012/13 season that has been driven largely by the determination of three seniors who want their final days of high school hoops to last into March.
A 54-24 home win against New Hyde Park this past Saturday kept Wantagh atop the Conference A-1 standings at 8-0 and 10-3 overall with just four games remaining. The Lady Warriors also thrived last year and finished tied with Garden City for the conference title before falling in the quarterfinals as an eight seed. Wantagh, led by senior captains Erin Pugh (forward), Demi Valenti (guard) and Erin Smith (forward), is hoping for better playoff positioning in 2013 that can set up a deep postseason run.
"We fight through every game like its our last game and we promised each other that we would," said Valenti said. "The seniors really push the other teammates to want it as much as we do.”
“They are just hungry and determined to win and it’s feeding off on everybody else,” said Wantagh's 20th-year girls basketball head coach Stan Bujacich of his three seniors. “This is their last shot and they bring it every night in practice and in games.”
In addition to the veteran leadership of three seniors, Wantagh has also received contributions from many younger players including 6'3 sophomore center Alex Parlato, who has scored in double digits seven times this season.
“We put her underneath a zone and it moves the zone back and leaves open the middle and leaves open other shots for other girls because they are so worried about her,” said Bujacich of how key Parlato is to Wantagh's success in 2013. “One thing she is doing more of this year is offensive rebounding.”
Complementing Parlato in the paint has been solid perimeter play from underclassmen starters Nikki Sliwak (freshman) and Christina Peden (sophomore), who are both point guards.
Wantagh will look to remain unbeaten in conference this Tuesday at South Side, who the Warriors edged 42-36 on Dec. 21. The Black and Gold close the regular season with a critical home game on Feb. 11 against rival Garden City that could decide who wins the regular season conference title and earns a higher seed for the playoffs. Wantagh edged Garden City 46-41 in the team's first meeting on Jan. 16 with Valenti clinching the key victory on a big steal late in the game.
"We really want get on the banner this year for our coach," Valenti said. "Losing is not an option for us this year."