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Young Lady Tigers Rear Their Heads 

A Lady Tiger makes a pass over a sea of Commack opponents during a pre-season scrimmage at Northport on Saturday.

Using a formula that’s worked for the Northport girls varsity basketball team for 34 years, coach Rich Castellano hopes to prove his theory of athletics once again.

The Lady Tigers this year has a wide range of players who have each had exposure on the court. Having graduated three All-County players and captains last year, the biggest challenge, Castellano said, will be filling the shoes of the leaders the Lady Tigers lost.

Returning starters this year, however, include senior point guard Lizzy Atkinson, who has played on the varsity level for four years and will set a great example for younger Tigers, her coach said.

If all goes according to plan, sophomore Alycia Gimler, a point guard, will take Atkinson’s spot, putting Atkinson in a position on the court where she would be better able to shoot – a great thing for the team, since scoring is one of Atkinson’s strongest assets. It will be a tough call, Castellano said; he is waiting to see if Gimler can fill Atkinson’s shoes in the No.1 point guard spot.

Another returning leader is senior Vincenza Patrone, a senior guard/forward who, even though she is 5 feet, 8 inches tall, plays “much bigger than that,” Castellano said, adding Patrone is particularly talented scoring off of rebounds. This will be her third year on the varsity team, the coach said.

Guard/forward Emily Robarge, forward Carly Werner, Kelly Clause and Emma Morrison are some returning players that Castellano hopes the younger players will turn to as role models and adapt as a team to the Northport basketball style.

Many of the girls continued practicing basketball over the summer and fall, Castellano added, through an intra-varsity league against surrounding school district teams.

The Lady Tigers hosted a four-way, six-game scrimmage at Northport on Saturday where teams from Commack, Harborfields and Huntington faced off for a league game simulation.

“I think they’re ready. The heart of our team is going to be everyone playing together. When you lose [All-County players], what you’re trying to do is to make sure the other girls are able to step right up, and we’ve been able to do that in the past; they all seem to step up. They know what’s expected of them,” the coach said.

The Lady Tigers will have their first home game of the league on Friday against Central Islip. Game time is set for 6 p.m.

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