By Mike Zummo
It was a short season that saw a ton of like opponents.
The Wallkill girls’ basketball team – in this COVID-19-shortened pandemic, bid farewell to their sole senior player – Kylie Detz and played four games against two teams as schedules were shuffled.
The Panthers started off the week with a 60-43 win over the Marlboro Dukes on Wednesday, and then won two straight games over the Highland Huskies before finishing the week by hosting Marlboro.
“We’re handling it as best we can,” Wallkill coach A.J. Higby said. “It would have been nice to get and play a few more teams, but the county’s teams have stayed within the county.”
The Panthers took it to Marlboro early, building a 41-14 at the end of the first half. While the Dukes never really got close to closing the gap, they outscored the Panthers 29-19 in the second half.
“We shot the ball well, and we were playing ridiculously good defense,” Higby said. “In the second half, we were trying to work the ball a little bit more and that took us out of our rhythm.”
Emma Schwarzbeck led the Panthers with 16 points, while Zoe Mesuch added 15 and Detz had 14. Marlboro’s Lizzie Lofaro scored 22 points.
“This group has been sitting back, just waiting to play together,” Higby said. “A lot of them play AAU all over. They have just been dying to get anything they could together. They’re a pretty good group together and they’re friends. It’s nice.”
The Panthers honored Detz – their only senior – before Saturday’s game against Marlboro.
Detz was Higby’s first player whose mother also played for him at Wallkill, and she’s the daughter of longtime Marlboro coach Joe Detz, who died last year from COVID-19.
“You will not find a better kid,” Higby said. “This young lady is pretty awesome. She takes care of the things that need to be taken care of. She is a solid human being.”
Wallkill beat Highland, 72-52, on Thursday behind Mesuch’s game-high 25 points. Schwarzbeck added 18 points and Emma Spindler scored 15. Dehanna Stevens led Highland with 15 points. Katie Dauenheimer and Addie McDowell scored 12 points each.
The Panthers beat Highland, 69-40 on Friday night. Mesuch scored 19 points and Schwarzbeck and Spindler scored 16 each. Dauenheimer scored 13 points for Highland and McDowell added 10.
The Panthers finished the season with a 59-50 loss to Marlboro on Saturday. Schwarzbeck scored 18 points and Emma Spindler added 10.
Wallkill finished the season, 4-1.
“This is introducing them to each other in some cases,” Higby said. “Some of them played on varsity three or four years together. I had three new this year and they’re playing pretty big roles, and that was important.”