Senior captains Francesca Ciasullo and Emma McGuire.
By Josh Lashley
HAMBURG — A coach or athlete who has participated in a given sport for a sustained period of time can likely verify that there are very few things to be sure of in the athletic world. Well, something that Earl Hornyak, the veteran, knowledgeable and successful head coach of the Wallkill Valley High School girl’s basketball program is sure of is the competence and capabilities of his team captains this year-Francesca Ciasullo and Emma McGuire, both of whom are seniors. “I have known both of them since they were five years old,’’ Hornyak said. “They have always been dependable, respectful, compassionate, hard working individuals. They both have been with the program for four years and are both three year starters. They earned the right to be captains through dedication and being exemplary role models. “Francesca has always been a great defender. She gives 100% from start to finish. She averages six points per game, two steals, two assists and three rebounds. She has 105 career steals. Emma is our leading rebounder with 173, with 412 career rebounds. She averages six points per game, two steals, two blocks and nine rebounds." Both student-athletes have demonstrated the ability to improve as individual basketball players as well as in their leadership roles as this season has moved forward. “Francesca’s confidence level has increased as the season has gone on,’’ Hornyak said. “Her foul shooting has been strong and her defense has become tougher and tougher- always matching up with the opposing teams best player. Emma has increased her rebounding and scoring as we have gone along. She has grown tougher on defense, always having to battle with the other team’s biggest players. Her level of confidence has also increased as the season has gone on. “Francesca’s work ethics and determination day in and day out is a huge, positive influence for all the girls. She leads by example. Emma is the one I always call on to demonstrate because she is very fundamentally sound. She helps show the younger girls the correct way of doing things." Most important to note is the excellent effort put forth by Ciasullo and McGuire in the classroom. “Francesca is Wallkill Valley’s Scholar/Athlete, member of the 700 Club for SAT scores in Math, Vice President of the National Honor Society, FBLA officer, Member of Italian Honor Society, English Honor Society, WALC, Pass It Along, has achieved High Honor Roll every marking period, has a GPA of 4.4. “Emma is a member of the National Honor Society, 700 Club for SAT scores in Math, English Honor Society, Italian Honor Society, FBLA officer, WALC president, Peer Leaders, has achieved Honor Roll every marking period, has a GPA over 4.0." The Rangers have qualified for the NJSIAA North 1 Group 1 Sectional Tournament as the No. 9 seed. On February 26, they are scheduled to travel to play No. 8 seed Wood-Ridge. A number of student-athletes have helped Wallkill Valley toward a playoff berth this winter. “Hannah Sekelsky and Jada Hill are seniors who have been with the program for four years," Hornyak said. “They are role players who do whatever it takes to help the team. Before her injury, sophomore Natalia Mianowski helped lead a very tough defense. Sophomore Samantha Opilla has been a great defender and scorer averaging 13.4 points per game, 3.5 steals, and three assists. Junior Jamie Struble has been an all around leader averaging 10.8 points per game, eight rebounds and 3.1 steals. “Our team plays every game with heart and determination. We work together and play as a team. I am very fortunate to be able to coach such a fantastic group of student athletes." NOTES: The statistics listed above were from games played through February 14.