Eight points. That’s all Caitlin Albanese needed to seal her name inside of the Wantagh High School record books.
“I was actually kind of nervous, like, what if I don’t score it?” Albanese recalled.
Battling against Valley Stream North High School on Jan. 29, the Wantagh girls basketball team was preparing for Albanese to make history. Eight points would change her life.
“I started off the game really strong, scoring two quick layups,” Albanese said. “I had really good momentum. Then, I scored a 3-pointer. I got the ball, I went for a lefty-layup. But then, I got fouled.”
She already tallied up seven markers. The foul meant she would need to make just one free throw to become only the second player in school history to score 1,000 points. Suddenly, the court was quiet. All eyes were on the senior guard.
She nailed it. And the ensuing celebration spoke for itself.
“It was a pretty awesome feeling,” she said. “I’ve been working towards this since the eighth grade, when I was named to varsity. To be the second girl to do it in Wantagh varsity girls basketball history is pretty amazing.”
Albanese joins Alex Parlato, who went to Fordham University after her time at Wantagh, as the lone two players to score more than 1,000 points in the school’s history. But this milestone moment wasn’t a surprise for head coach Stan Bujacich.
“This is why you coach,” Bujacich said. “You want your players to succeed in all types of levels. She’s very unselfish. She sacrifices shots, passes the ball and plays great defense. That’s why getting 1,000 is so special.”
Albanese comes from a sports-oriented family. Her father, Michael Albanese, was athletic as a child. As his daughter grew up, his passion for basketball rubbed off on her. Her younger sister, Alyssa, plays for the school’s volleyball team as well.
The basketball star’s work ethic is as intense as it gets. Each day, the team practices from 2:45 to 5:30 p.m., with a mixture of drills, video observation and other techniques to help them learn. It’s what she said makes her love the game.
“It’s nonstop,” she said. “It’s what keeps me going. It’s a good break from school and I get to be with my friends. That’s the best part.”
Besides Albanese’s scoring ability, coach Bujacich believes her communication skills and high-spirited personality help make her a natural leader.
“Her ability to succeed and will to win, ability to lift her teammates and energize them is infectious,” he said. “She just gives 110 percent at every drill and every play of the game.