Moving down wasn’t Rocco Sellitto’s first preference. The Bishop Kearney girls basketball coach was adamant about staying in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Division I despite a disappointing and underachieving season.
“I was always the type that if things are going to be tough you just work harder,” the second-year coach said. “That’s how I think of things. That’s why I think I differed a little bit in that scenario.”
The school and athletic director Anthony Troiano felt the task of rebuilding the proud program playing at the highest level would be too big a task after its varsity and JV teams did not win a game against a league opponent last season. The Tigers season ended in a CHSAA Class A state play-in game loss to St. Francis Prep with an 8-18 overall record.
“It’s definitely tough, but it’s the sign of the times,” Troiano said. “We have to adapt to what’s going on around us. I didn’t think it was a difficult decision. I thought it was a necessary decision.”
Sellitto respects the choice made by the school that was announced to the league’s coaches via email Wednesday, but didn’t feel like the losing affected his entire team during the season, feeling that they bounced back and gave an effort after losses. Sellitto admitted that it was a difficult year and losing forward Taylor Raccuglia to a dislocated shoulder early in the league season didn’t help.
“My first impression is going to be we will we take our bumps, just like Loughlin did their first year back in the league,” Sellitto said. “We have been in the league, but the personell changes. It’s not like a college were you go out and get top players all the time.”
The Tigers varsity went 0-16 with a roster that included seven seniors including Sam Retas and Raccuglia. Juniors Justine Vento, Cathy Wesolowski and Allison Gasparino all saw some time.
The league changed drastically this year with the addition of eventual state Federation Class AA champion Nazareth, the No. 6-ranked team in the country by USA Today. Kearney lost its CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens diocesan playoff game 70-28 against mostly the Lady Kingsmen’s freshmen.
The players were taken by surprise by the move since Kearney along with St. Francis Prep and Christ the King were the only teams in the diocese which had always played at the league’s highest level. While there is some disappointment in not getting a chance to play against the likes of the Royals, Mary Louis and Molloy, the move was welcomed by the players.
“We all have talent, so hopefully having that little boost of confidence that we can compete will push us into proving what we really can do,” Vento said.