Whitman Girls Take Aim At Post-Season

Sophomore forward Jenna Stockfeder (15) goes for a shot on the Lady Wildcats’ home court.

Sophomore forward Jenna Stockfeder (15) goes for a shot on the Lady Wildcats’ home court.

By Sophia Ricco

The Walt Whitman girls varsity basketball team is setting its sights on playoffs and as long as players stay consistent, the team could have a chance at the championship.

So far the Wildcats are 8-6 overall and 5-5 in league play this season. Head coach Dan Trebour feels the team is competitive enough to make the playoffs. If the team wins the next three of their six games, they will be on their way.
“We have six league games left and we were 5-1 against these six teams the first time through. I’d like to think we could do the same or better,” Trebour said.
The Wildcats played against Lindenhurst Wednesday, and will face off against Connetquot on Jan. 25 and Smithtown West at home on Jan. 29. The team is looking forward to the Lindenhurst game. They beat the Bulldogs the first time around, and a will take them one step closer to playoffs.
Trebour admits he has a small roster, but utilizes his players’ abilities wisely.

“We have a balanced team as far as scoring with our guards and forwards,” Trebour said. “We just want to keep that balance heading into the rest of the season.”

Of the ten players on the team, five are returning seniors and three are returning starters, the team’s captains.

Walt Whitman senior guard Desiree Kleberg (13) dribbles past opponents.

Walt Whitman senior guard Desiree Kleberg (13) dribbles past opponents.

Danielle Kleet has started as point guard for four years and is a strong three-point shooter. Desiree Kleberg demonstrates her athleticism as a starting forward, doing a great job getting to the basket. Coming off knee surgery, Meghan Soulias, a versatile and smart player, was eager to get back on the court.

“I feel we have some experience that returned from last year, so that consistency from last season certainly is a strength… With those three, it’s a nice trio to work around,” Trebour said. “They’re as good as any team’s top players.”

Unfortunately, this season Trebour feels the team has been hit with an “injury bug”. As Soulias returned to the court from surgery, he lost two more players to injured.

“As much consistency that we have with returners, it’s been tough to deal with shuffling of players and lineups,” Trebour said.

Preparing for their upcoming games, the Wildcats will evaluate previous games against the teams they will battle once more, looking to make improvements and see what succeeded. To break out of the monotony of practice, Trebour likes to introduce new drills.

“Some of the things that we’re trying to improve on is just taking care of the ball and rebounding, keeping the teams off the offensive board,” Trebour said.

The girls have put in hard work all year as preparation, attending training camps during the summer and playing together in the offseason.

“It’s a great group of kids,” Trebour said. “I think with all their hard work, we will reap the benefits come playoff time.”

In Trebour’s 20 years of coaching at Walt Whitman, the Wildcats have made it to playoffs 18 of the 19 seasons. This season he hopes to see his team advance through playoffs once again.

“We are consistently a competitive team that finds themselves in the playoffs,” Trebour said.

He is aided by assistant coach, Ed Garrone, a long-time coach within the district who Trebour finds to be a “total asset” to the program. With the experience they share combined, the team is in good hands.

“We are products of our own experiences, mine has been a number of years coaching,” Trebour said. “I think you take what you’ve done in the past and try to learn from it… You hope that when you look at your team, you can understand the strengths and weaknesses. You’re just trying to do what’s best for the team.”