8-0 Montauk Girls ‘Really Knew What They Were Doing’

7th and 8th grade girls hoops team at Montauk School worked hard and listened
Chloe Coleman, one of the Mustangs’ guards, “saw the floor, passed well, and made a lot of layups.” Craig Macnaughton

Sometimes, John Cossentino, whose seventh and eighth-grade girls basketball team at the Montauk School just finished an undefeated season, at 8-0, said, “the younger generation gets a bad reputation for their lack of focus, attention span, and work ethic,” but his charges, he went on to say in an email this week, gave the lie to that.

“This team,” he continued, “did the opposite of that every day, and in the end reminded us that there are still many young kids out there who work hard, listen, do their best, and support their teammates. The older generation will be in good hands when this generation takes over in the near future.”

The Mustangs, whose roster comprised eight eighth graders and eight seventh graders, got better and better as the season went along, the highlight being a 5-point win over Southampton, which fields strong junior high teams year in, year out.

Cossentino, who gave a lot of credit to his volunteer assistant, Chris Coleman, said he’d had undefeated teams before in his 24-year career — in 2000, 2005, and 2015, to be specific — but that “this team was certainly one of the best I’ve ever had.”

“I coached some of these kids for three years on a travel team at S.Y.S.,” said Coleman, who was asked by Cossentino to help out this season. “They’ve been a pleasure, they’re constantly improving, they’re great athletes, they’re very coachable.”

The Mustangs, he said, in reply to a question, had played an aggressive man-for-man defense all season, which yielded numerous turnovers. That man-for-man pressure, he thought, was the prime reason that the Montauk junior high girls had done so well.

As for the offense, “Baye Bogetti was our point guard,” said Cossentino. “Things ran through her. She’d get the ball into Isabella [DePasquale] on the foul line, and Isabella would take it from there.”

“We had no 3-point shooters,” said Coleman, presumably because none were necessary.

Jessica Prince, another eighth grader, had been particularly effective in shutting down the opposing team’s high-scorer, Cossentino said, adding that Chloe Coleman, Chris Coleman’s daughter and Bogetti’s fellow guard, “played great defense, saw the floor well, passed well, and made a lot of layups.”

The seventh graders pushed the eighth graders in practices, Coleman said — Katie Kuneth, Bogetti’s backup at point guard, and Gianna D’Agostino in particular.

Besides the aforementioned, the Mustangs’ roster comprised Yulissa Garces, Ella Miller, Ariana Estrella-Neat, and McKenzie Simons among the eighth graders, and Scarlett Flight, Ruby Tyrrell, Maise Noll, Gabrielle Payne, Sophia Frazier, and Maggie Nordlinger among the seventh graders.

While his eighth graders would be hard to replace, Cossentino said, he could take heart in the fact that his seventh graders will return, and in the group of sixth graders who are coming up.

It all bodes well, ultimately, for East Hampton High School’s varsity team, whose coach, Krista Cordone, was among the spectators at a Montauk-East Hampton game played last month at the East Hampton Middle School.

“There’s some special talent among the eighth graders, among the seventh graders too,” said Coleman. “Things are looking up for the varsity.”

At the end of the Mustangs’ finale with Center Moriches at the Montauk School, a game that Montauk won by a healthy margin, “they cut down the nets,” said J.R. Kuneth, Katie’s father. “Everybody got some twine. . . . Jack Perna hadn’t budgeted for that.”

Perna, Montauk’s longtime superintendent, laughed when asked if the budget could stand the hit. “If it couldn’t, I would have paid for new nets myself,” he said, adding that “cutting down the nets was kind of cool.”

“They’re all athletes, great sports, and they know what they’re doing. I’ve played basketball, but the first thing I looked to do on catching the ball was to get rid of it. These girls really know what they’re doing. John Cossentino and Chris Coleman have done a great job with them.”

Shown with their coaches, John Cossentino and Chris Coleman, the Montauk Mustangs settled down recently for a formal photo. Sitting are Chloe Coleman and Sophia Frazier. Behind them, kneeling, are Ariana Estrella-Neat, Ella Miller, Jessica Prince, Baye Bogetti, Yulissa Garces, and Maise Noll. In the back row are Maggie Nordlinger, McKenzie Simons, Katie Kuneth, Ruby Tyrrell, Isabella DePasquale, Gianna D’Agostino, Gabrielle Payen, and Scarlett Flight. Katie Burkle