Nothing was lost in translation last season when the St. Anthony's girls basketball team adjusted to a new coach and overcame a mid-season crisis when four players were involved in a car accident.
Ken Parham, 41, a respected boys basketball coach who directed Bay Shore to five trips to the Suffolk Class AA title game in 12 seasons, took over the St. Anthony's program.
"There was definitely a big switch, but he's done a great job with the team," senior Micki Impellizeri said.
Parham's towering presence made an immediate impact. And his steady hand steered the program through a rough patch when starter Kerrin Maurer (fractured hip and ankle) was lost for the season as a result of injuries suffered in a car accident. It was a moment that shook the entire team.
"It made us stronger as a team," Parham said. "Basketball really didn't matter at that point. It makes you think about what's really important. We were happy our teammates were fine and trying to help them get through it."
The Friars grew stronger. Along the way, they beat traditional powerhouses St. John the Baptist and Holy Trinity during the regular season, along with eventual state public school Class AA champ Sachem East.
It was a remarkable run for the first-year coach. St. Anthony's played and lost to St. John the Baptist in the Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA title game. But the team still qualified to move on in the Catholic state tournament. All St. Anthony's did was win four in a row to capture the state CHSAA Class A title, highlighted by a 56-44 win over Buffalo-Sacred Heart. Then the Friars fell to state public school champ Averill Park, 60-48, in the state Federation Class A title game in Glens Falls.
Last Season: 24-7 overall, 7-3 NSCHSAA.
Coach: Ken Parham (second year).
- Micki Impellizeri, senior, center
- Symone Kelly, sophomore, forward
- Kerrin Maurer, senior, shooting guard
- Rebecca Musgrove, sophomore, point guard
- Lauren Williams, freshman, guard
Position Breakdown: Four starters return from a year ago and three more from other high schools transferred in. That's a lot of talent to put on the floor at once.
None is more significant than the big front line the Friars employ, starting with 6-foot, 2-inch senior Micki Impellizeri. The Bucknell-bound center is a rebounder and general low-post threat. Sophomore Symone Kelly, a 6-1 sophomore, is growing into her role down low and no doubt has a good mentor.
"Micki is the glue for us," Parham said. "She does a little bit of everything. She blocks shots, is a great defender and helps make people better. She's a leader on the court."
While the size edge Impellizeri and Kelly provide will be a big factor, guard play will determine how far the Friars go. Kerrin Maurer is an athletic guard and one of the best lacrosse players in the nation. She signed with Duke. Sophomore point guard Rebecca Musgrove was the league Freshman of the Year. Musgrove has the ability to be a star playmaker.
"Kerrin is tough as nails," Parham said. "She's a winner and does anything that needs to be done to win the game."
What the team needs to develop are consistent scoring threats from the perimeter. The scorers are there. Unfortunately for Parham, there are eligibility rules which limit the number of games certain transfers can play. So transfer Chastity Taylor (Central Islip) is ineligible until the end of January. Kimani Jackson (Half Hollow Hills West) is ineligible until the end of February, although she can play in non-league games.
Another newcomer, freshman guard Lauren Williams, was a starter on North Babylon's talented squad a year ago. She could grow into a real factor in the offense by season's end.
Expectations: Last season's strong playoff run coupled with a deep roster of returners have set expectations sky high, perhaps unrealistically so. But Parham is a master at getting teams to perform – and exceed – their talent level.
Once again, St. John the Baptist stands in the way of a league crown. Yet winning the league means a berth in the state Class AA playoffs and a tougher road against skilled CHSAA City powers. The league runner-up advances to the Class A playoffs against more equitable competition. It's a double-edged sword.
Yet consider the program's recent history. Until Kristine Best and Taylor Flynn led the Friars to the league semifinals in 2008, St. Anthony's hadn't advanced to that point since 1988. So the Friars have come far, indeed.
- Dec. 14: St. John the Baptist @ St. Anthony's, 4 p.m.
- Jan. 4: Sacred Heart @ St. Anthony's, 7:30 p.m.
- Jan. 11: St. Dominic @ St. Anthony's, 5:45 p.m.
- Jan. 20: St. Anthony's @ St. John the Baptist, 5:45 p.m.
- Feb. 11: Holy Trinity @ St. Anthony's, 5:45 p.m.