Weekly Feature



2018-11-29 / Sports

Former Lady Legend eager to begin hoops coaching career with East

JASON NADOLINSKI
Sports Reporter


West Seneca East’s first-year girls basketball coach Brittany Nagowski gives instruction from the sidelines during the Lady Trojans’ scrimmage against Maryvale Saturday. Nagowski is anticipating a shorter than usual adjustment period to the new coach for her players, since she has coached virtually all of them at some point over the last seven years during her stints as East’s JV soccer and lacrosse coach. Photo by Tim Frenz Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com West Seneca East’s first-year girls basketball coach Brittany Nagowski gives instruction from the sidelines during the Lady Trojans’ scrimmage against Maryvale Saturday. Nagowski is anticipating a shorter than usual adjustment period to the new coach for her players, since she has coached virtually all of them at some point over the last seven years during her stints as East’s JV soccer and lacrosse coach. Photo by Tim Frenz Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com There’s a new face patrolling the sidelines for West Seneca East’s girls basketball team this season, but eagle-eyed fans whose daughters have played for the school’s JV soccer or lacrosse squads will realize that Brittany Nagowski is a familiar face at the same time.

Nagowski, who played basketball at Lancaster before focusing on lacrosse in college, has spent the past seven years coaching soccer and lacrosse at East, and as a teacher at East Middle has come across all eight players who make up this season’s varsity squad. When she heard during the offseason that the basketball job would be open, she went for it.

“Having already known all the girls and taught some of them since seventh grade, I knew how they worked and what they can and can’t do,” Nagowski said. “And it’s a good thing that I knew them from soccer, because there wasn’t much time for open gyms during the fall because of my soccer coaching responsibilities. Basketball might not be the first sport for most of the girls, but the good thing about this group is that they give 110 percent to whatever it is they’re focused on doing.”

With no seniors on the squad this season, the role of captain falls to returning sophomore Samantha Kaufman and returning freshman

Hailey Cenname. Kaufman, whom Nagowski called “a very strong, dominant player who can play inside or outside,” averaged 8.6 points, 3.8 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game last season. Cenname, who came within one three-point basket of breaking the school’s single-season record for long-range shots last year, averaged 4.0 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists last winter.

“Hailey and Sam will be our greatest threats for sure,” Nagowski said. “Hailey is just a stellar athlete who will be a fun one to watch. The way she’s been training and practicing, she’ll have a good shot at that record again this year.”

Rounding out the squad will be juniors Grace Cebulski, Sarah Fineour and Grace Garbatowicz, and sophomores Lindsay Garbacz, Kathryn Kociszewski and Maria Spinelli.

“We might have a small roster, but this really is a good, athletic group of girls making up this team,” Nagowski said. “We already have good chemistry on and off the court. Having just eight girls on the roster changes some things for us – it’s hard to scrimmage or to even work on plays in practice – but the girls have done a good job with it. Every time we do something, they always work together. Being a teacher, I give them practice plans so that they know what’s happening and so we don’t have any lulls, since they can just go into the next thing without me guiding them.”

East, which did get in a scrimmage Saturday against Maryvale and Wednesday against Lancaster, aims to finish above the .500 mark this season, but Nagowski will be satisfied if at the very least her players continue to learn the game and work at getting better at it as individuals and as a group. Those goals could shift as Nagowski becomes more familiar with her players’ basketball skills, though.

“I know there will be times when I make mistakes, but as long as there are open lines of communication with the team, we’ll be OK,” Nagowski said. “What’s really nice is that the girls don’t have to talk about it in the locker room because there’s that mutual respect to where they can approach me with questions.

I’m learning how they play basketball still, so I want to take the game and adapt it to their talents as we go – and hopefully that leads to wins.”

East is slated to kick off regular-season play Wednesday, Dec. 5, by hosting Eden in the first round of the West Seneca Tip-Off Tournament. The Lady Trojans will then play either Depew or West Seneca West in the tournament’s second round two nights later before kicking off ECIC II action on Tuesday, Dec. 11, by traveling to Amherst.

“I think it’s just going to come down to us staying positive,” Nagowski said. “A lot of the girls have other sports that they’re still playing at the same time as our season, so they’re asking me to be understanding while they do what they need to do in order to push through. To that end I think we’re going to incorporate some film days so as to not overwork them physically. But, in general, I’m really excited to see what this team can do. The girls are all pushing each other and being positive all the while, and they’re getting better with their shooting every single day.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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