Hills West Boys Basketball, throughout the past decade, has had a great legacy of making the playoffs. On the other hand, the Lady Colts of West have had something of a dry spell, having not made the playoffs in eight years. Well, this year both basketball teams get a crack at bringing home a trophy for West.
The boys team, lead by the Core Four, and a superb effort off the bench from various players, has continued its streak of making the playoffs for the eleventh straight year.
All of these playoff appearances have been under Coach Mitaritonna, who has made a habit out of winning. “Controlling today is our philosophy,” he said, “however, in order to prepare for tomorrow, we have to learn from yesterday. It’s awesome for the team to see what we’ve accomplished in the past, but we are focused on this season, and improving everyday.” Having coached County and Long Island Championship teams, he and every team he’s coached have earned a spot in Hills West’s tremendous legacy, and this year’s team is looking to do the same.
Tenacity is the core of the girls basketball team’s success. With a new set of coaches, new philosophies on both sides of the ball, and many returning players, the Lady Colts have had an incredible comeback season. Freshman point guard, Kayla Robertson added, “The seniors are a huge part of our team. They welcomed everyone with open arms and have definitely contributed to our success.”
The team’s main goal when starting the season was just to make the playoffs, and this was realized on Tuesday, when the girls destroyed Bellport and clinched a playoff spot. With four more games left to play this season, the girls are still hungry to win in every game they have yet to play.
Captain Sam Pierre-Louis has been striving every year since she was a freshman to make the playoffs and her goal was finally accomplished. “This season, we came out with the energy, aggressiveness, heart, and a strong belief in ourselves. All of which has contributed to our success as a team.” When asking Joi Wilson if the team is willing to go all the way, she stopped and said, “Is there even an answer to that? Hell yeah, we will go all the way! We just have to be motivated and believe. It’s never enough to get better and we are going to keep fighting to achieve our goal.”
Coach Bryan Dugan and Coach Colleen Darge have been highly impressed with their success. Being Darge’s first year of coaching basketball, she has played a major role with assisting every girl on the team. “This group of girls proved to themselves that they are winners and it is amazing to watch them grow,” claimed Darge. “As a team, our goal was to make it to playoffs. With winning Tuesday’s game, the team showed that all is possible.”
Star players such as leading Suffolk County scorer junior Tori Harris, junior Channiah Baker, sophomore Samantha Hinke and senior Alyse McAlpine have been heading the Lady Colts on offense. On defense, senior Samantha Pierre-Louis and sophomore Jada Cooper have been providing an outstanding performance to round out the Colts’ tenacious style of play. Putting all of these great players together in unison produces a team you don’t want to mess with.
“I don’t think the teams were expecting us to be as good as we are,” Paulina DiFatta added. “We have a lot of athleticism on the team, not only our starting 5, but all 12 of us. Although we haven’t reached our full potential, with our great work ethic and attitude, anything is possible.”
As of now, the girls are in 2nd place in their league with a record of 7-3 in Suffolk County and an overall record of 10-4. They are one spot behind their main rivals Kings Park, who hold a record of 10-0.
As Coach Dugan was previously the boys JV basketball coach, he knows first hand how winning can be contagious. He’s taken the best aspects of the boys basketball program and transitioned them over to the girls program. For example, the team’s motto. “Together” is a philosophy that Coach Mitaritonna and Dugan preach to their teams constantly. Everything gets done together. Whether it be winning, losing, practicing, or just playing around, it is all done together.
Controlling Today, Playing Together, and Believing. Playoffs are about which team has the most heart invested in the game, and you can bet that Hills West will lay it all on the line to fight for that championship trophy.