Monday, January 5, 2009

Tamarac girls turning recess-like approach into victories

Tamarac's Zysnia Osepa (left) and Erica Derby (right) have been putting up the points for the Bengals basketball team this season. Tamarac hosts Greenwich in a critical Wasaren League basketball game Tuesday night. (J.S. Carras - The Record)

They aren't the only two making it happen for the Bengals, who are 2-1 in Wasaren League games this season. Senior Brittany Smith is a force on the inside and Nikki Cavallo has been dangerous from behind the three-point arc, sinking eight long-range shots.

Sam Matthews is another of the players that can score - and Tamarac coach Buzz Mulqueen likes his team's versatility.

"We’ve had three or four different players that have been leading scorer over the course of seven games," he said. "So it does get shared around. Cavallo, Mathews, Derby, Osepa. It definitely is a team effort. We can’t rely on just one because that’s too easy to defend."

Mulqueen is in his first year as the head of the varsity squad after having spent three years as the modified coach at Tamarac. He took over for Curt Bailey, who in two stints at Tamarac, became a coaching legend.

Bailey guided Tamarac to a 223-82 record, four Section II championships and four Wasaren League titles in 14 years from 1975-88. He then coached the women at the College of Saint Rose from 1990 to 2001, leading the Golden Knights to a 279-75 record. Bailey returned to Clums Corners in the fall of 2005 and retired at the end of last season.

Derby, who was a member of Tamarac's Section II Class B semifinalist soccer team is hoping the success of the fall teams carries over to the basketball court. The boys soccer team won the Class B title, the football team had its first winning season since 1992 and the boys basketball team is ranked No. 8 in the state.

"This is a good year for all of our sports and hopefully we can keep it going with basketball," Derby said.

Look for the full story on how Mulqueen has been able to rally the troops using a playground-like approach, along with full standings, polls and Monday's roundup, in Tuesday's edition of The Record.

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