“It was no joke against Goshen. They’re a solid team. Athletic. With size. We hit eight three’s -- like I said before we are the Mad Bombers out there -- and played our best game of the season. We hustled after every loose ball, broke their press...it was inspiring. If we had played every game that way, we would have had a few more wins to show for our efforts. And we had great effort all season long, but we were thin on talent, had no size at all nor any pure raw talent to go to when we needed it.”
Barberio has committed to the program, hopefully being the end of the line of four coaches in four years. “I think it will take three years to really get my feet under me. I told the girls that I also have a lot of learning to do. But despite our shortcomings we played hard all season and were in a bunch of games against some very superior opposition.” The one thing that Barberio does lament is not being here the past couple of years. “I never worked with any of the seniors before this season, so I didn’t have much of an idea what Mackenzie Quick could do, or Nicole Morrissey, or Kim Haughton, or Mikayla O’Donnell...all of whom gave me some quality minutes out there.”
Barberio is looking forward to next season already, having a squad in the Most Precious Blood Summer League in Walden during July and August, and hoping to shape a team for 2011-12. “We have a solid nucleus with Adrian Hekking, Allison Ricci, Maddy Harrington and Maris Logan returning and promising JV’s Abby King and Cora and Honour Butler moving up.”
Hekking, the Chairwoman of the Boards for New Paltz, averaged double figure rebounds despite standing just about 5’ 7”. “She’s got a really solid game all-around, works very hard to get better and just has to pick up her scoring a bit more.” The junior forward averaged a little over eight points per game this season.
In Ricci, Barberio has the fiery potential go-to player that every team needs. “She’s all energy out there. She’s got great raw skills, can hit the outside shot, drive to the hoop, play aggressive defense, she just has to be more consistent game-to-game.” The junior off-guard averaged just over 12 points-per-game and hit 20 or more four times.
In Harrington and Logan, Barberio sees the upside as they gain more playing time. “They have different games: Maddy more of an inside presence; Maris can rebound, but likes to go outside to shoot three’s. Both can improve their all-around games this summer just playing a lot, hitting the weight room...it’s a nice nucleus for next year.”
For the Highland boys and long-time coach Mike Milliman it was the second year in a row of scoring difficulties. And for the second year in a row the Huskies won just three games.
“It’s difficult to win games when you struggle to score. Our leading scorer was sophomore Jimmy Relyea at seven points-per-game, so that kind of says it all (the team averaged around 48 points-per-game).” And again this year, like last, the team lacked any size at all and had no real go-to guy for crunch time, so, even though athletic, the team would fade out for extended periods of every game, playing even-up, but then going five or six minutes without scoring a point. “It was frustrating. We played very hard and were in a lot of games, but in the end we weren’t very far from where I thought we’d be when the season began. And outside of Relyea, there were no new surprises this season.”
Milliman sees a big improvement for next season and beyond. “We return a solid nucleus with sophomore’s Relyea, Chris Ranalli and Ross Miller -- who didn’t get much playing time, but hit some shots and grabbed some rebounds when he was in there -- plus junior’s Charlie Merget -- who did get some time and played well in spurts, and Anthony Pavese and Kyle Demale -- who got little playing time this season. All six of these guys could have a nice impact next season.” But the key to returning Highland to Section 9 Tournament play will be the younger guys. “Our modified team was solid and all they have to do is put the time in, play the game more, and start this summer in a league or in AAU and play lots of ball. That’s the most important thing to get us back where we were a couple seasons back. There’s a bunch of dedicated players at modified, so we’re working our way back up.”
The New Paltz boys finished the season 11-5 and are awaiting the seedings for Section 9 Class A; while the Highland girls -- the two-time defending Section 9 champions who finished 12-6 on the season and dropped an MHAL Final Four semifinal to Coleman -- await the seeding for Class B.