Salamone Joins Rarified Air
East Hampton's Liana Salamone was the only girls’ basketball freshman to be selected All-State.
Out of the 43 players who made the Connecticut High School Coaches Association (CHSCA) girls’ All-State teams, East Hampton’s Liana Salamone was the only freshman selected.
“I was the happiest person ever. I started crying tears with my dad,” Salamone recalled of her reaction with father, Craig Salamone, when finding out about the honor. “[My dad] has been there for me since I started basketball and we both really wanted it. I didn’t know if I could do it, but he knew I could.”
The freshman-phenom took the local court by storm this past winter, scoring a team-high 445 points and averaging 17.1 points to power the Bellringers offense. The all-round point guard also did so much more than just score—averaging 7.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 2.8 steals per game.
“Liana had an amazing and impactful freshmen season here in our basketball program. She was able to fit in with her teammates both on and off the court in a very positive way,” said East Hampton head coach Shaun Russell. “Liana worked hard all season to improve her game as well as to improve the ways in which she could help to make the team and her teammates better. Liana gave us great stability with the ball and her strengths played into those pillars of our program that we rely on to allow us to do the things we try to do well on a daily basis.”
After having to prove herself as a first-year high school player, Salamone quickly became the court general for an East Hampton team that had one of the program’s most successful seasons—winning 23 of 26 games and a Shoreline Conference (SLC) Championship.
“Once the season started and we started to scrimmage, I felt comfortable with my role as a point guard,” recalled Salamone, “As the games started our chemistry started to build and we found what worked for us, which was our defense and communication.”
Her production increased with each game, peaking in the conference and state tournament games where she averaged 23 points per game.
Salamone and Jackie Russell, a sophomore, created a dynamite backcourt that could score at will from both the inside and outside, along with setting up teammates.
Both Salamone and Russell earned first-team All-SLC as East Hampton captured a third straight conference crown and made it to the semifinals in the Class M tournament.
Following the season, Salamone went right back to work on the court. She is currently on a We Are One (Amateur Athletic Union) basketball team that is sponsored by Under Armour.
The travel team is part of the Rise Division and will need to keep winning to keep their sponsorship. So far they have won a majority of their games and the goal is to compete nationally with games slated for Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, among other states over the coming weeks.
Along with honing her basketball skills, Salamone is also competing with East Hampton’s track and field team, running sprints and relays for the Bellringers as the team aims to defend their Class M title from last spring.
Her basketball goal for this offseason is to work on her jump shot, mainly her mid-range jumper, as she eyes an even better sophomore season. Salamone will be one of four returning starters next winter as East Hampton will be one of the favorites coming into the 2022-2023 season.
Coach Russell believes his young superstar has a chance to etch one of the best careers the program has had, adding, “[Liana] has a good perspective on things for a player her age and she wants to be the best that she can be in all the things that she does.”
“She has a chance to leave an impact and a footprint that will be passed down to the players that follow her just as she has been impacted by those that have played here before and with her,” added Russell. “The sky is the limit for her on the court and in the classroom. She is a great kid with a great work ethic and I look forward to helping her to strive to reach her full potential.”
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin