By MIKE SMITH
Over the last several seasons, Harrison’s girls basketball program has made great strides culminating in a .500 season last winter and the chance to host a non-outbracket playoff game for the first time in recent memory. As they gear up for the 2013-14 season with a battle-tested group of veterans, the Huskies could be poised for yet another solid year.
Harrison retains five starters from last year’s squad, including honorable mention all-league selection Kyle Lefkowitz who will patrol the paint for the Huskies. Last season, the three-year starter proved to be a wizard on the boards and will look to once again be a presence down low.
“She had a monstrous year last year,” head coach Louis Kail said. “She’s one of our senior captains and averaged 10 rebounds per game.”
Lefkowitz will be joined in the front court by junior Gabby Morris, who can spread the floor with her shooting, and sophomore Jessica Scazzero, whose high motor will help to set the tone for the Huskies.
“Jessica came into her own at the end of last year,” Kail said. “She’s got great energy, great toughness and there’s nothing she can’t do.”
Senior point guard Paige Br-abant, who has led the Huskies for the better part of the last three years, is also back and thriving in Harrison’s new up-tempo system. Brabant–the team’s second-highest scorer last year‑will play alongside sophomore Gia Mancini in the backcourt, giving the Huskies some solid guard play. According to Kail, Mancini showed flashes of brilliance in her freshman campaign.
“She’s in her third year on the varsity, and I think this is going to be the season where people begin to realize how good she is,” Kail said of Mancini. “We saw last year how good she could be and now, with her older, we’re going to see more consistency.”
Manicini, Brabant and Sca-zzero will be instrumental in helping Harrison get out on the break, which will be a focal point for the Huskies this year.
“We’re really emphasizing moving the ball up the floor quickly,” Kail said. “Transition basketball has been big the last couple of years and we’ve found great success in it with certain lineups when we play to our strengths.”
After a number of scrimmages, the Huskies are set to open the regular season on Dec. 4 at Valhalla High School, after press time.
“Really what we’re looking for this year is some more consistency,” the head coach said. “We’ve kind of struggled with that for the past two years; we’d look great one game, have an awesome half, but now we need to be able to do that consistently.”