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Distefano docks in Port Jervis

Varsity - 2010 Season
Posted Thursday, February 25, 2010 by Kyle Ross
Retrieved from Times Herald Record Online

PORT JERVIS: Jim Distefano, the new Port Jervis girls' coach, has previously coached the SUNYOrange women and the Middletown boys.
   By Justin Rodriguez
   The Times Herald-Record
   A winter away from coaching basketball? Jim Distefano couldn't handle that.
   So Distefano put out feelers this summer. A handful of schools showed interest. Distefano felt the Port Jervis girls' job would be the best fit.
   Distefano replaces Luann McCarthy, who resigned after six seasons. He makes his debut tonight when Port Jervis plays in the Wallenpaupack (Pa.) tournament.
   "It's just going to be like anywhere else I coached,'' Distefano said. "I want to be competitive. I want the girls to work hard. Hopefully, we keep improving.''
   Distefano, 52, should have his work cut out for him. Port Jervis went 5-14 last season. That record included an 0-8 mark in Division II of the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association.
   To make matters worse, Port Jervis has just eight players. Distefano has mixed varsity and jayvee practices to compensate for the lack of numbers.
   "So far, (Distefano) has helped us work together,'' forward Jen Keane said. "He's always pushing us. He's helped us all realize what our strengths and weaknesses are.''
   Coaching with low numbers isn't new to Distefano. Two years ago, he went 12-7 with only six girls on the SUNY Orange women's team. Only two players went out last season, forcing the team to fold.
   Distefano later left the program. He learned of the Port Jervis job from athletic director Bob Corvino at a softball game this spring. He was hired in the fall.
   Distefano made a name for himself coaching the Middletown boys' varsity program. He went 193-180 in 17 seasons, but Middletown High principal Bernard Cohen and then athletic director Pat Kennedy decided to replace him after the 1997-98 season.
   Distefano said he would entertain the idea of returning to boys' basketball at some point.
   For now, Distefano is concentrating on turning around the Port Jervis program.
   "I'm glad I have this opportunity,'' Distefano said. "I'm going to work my hardest. This is going to be a challenge, I just want the girls to work hard. We will see what happens.''
   Around the OCIAA
   Minisink Valley and Washingtonville are expected to compete for the Division II title. Minisink Valley beat the Wizards 38-34 last season in a one-game playoff for the championship. Washingtonville and Minisink Valley possess two of the best inside players in Section 9.
   Maureen Van Vorst averaged 16.8 points and 10 rebounds for the Warriors last season. Shiesha McCollum, who last week signed a letter of intent to attend DePaul on a full scholarship, led the Wizards with 20 points.
   Middletown and Newburgh should be the top teams in Division I. Coaches tabbed Kingston as a legitimate threat. The Middies are led by guard Chantel Anthony, who is entering her fifth varsity season.
   Section 9 power John S. Burke Catholic could get tested in Division III. The Eagles lost their three best players to graduation – Katie Hall, a two-time Times Herald-Record Player of the Year (2000-01), Caitlin Hayes and Kiely Donnelly. That threesome combined for 35.8 points a game last season.
   Tri-Valley could be the team to beat in Division IV. The Bears lose just one player from last year – center Megan Sheeley. Tri-Valley coach Karen Furman expects junior Heather Bachmann to be a force. She led the team in points (12.7), rebounds (8.5), blocks (2.2) and steals last season (4.1). Also keep an eye on Sullivan West.
   Division V appears to be the most wide open with Roscoe, Eldred and Livingston Manor figuring to contend.

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