Sports

Cougars earn nod for first time in school history, Hauppauge also places second

The Centereach High School varsity cheerleading team placed second in nation at the Universal Cheerleaders Association’s National High School Cheerleading Championship. The Cougars placed in Division II Large Varsity finals for the first time in school history.

Hauppauge also placed second, in Division II Small Varsity. Mount Sinai finished fourth in Division II Large Varsity and Rocky Point tied for seventh place in Division II Medium Varsity.

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By Jim Ferchland

The league-title winning drought is finally over for the Ward Melville Patriots.

With a 64-51 win over Sachem East Feb. 9, the boys basketball team nabbed a share of the bragging rights for the first time since 1990.

With only five players scoring, Ward Melville was efficient enough to hold down Sachem East in its final regular season game. Brentwood played Longwood the same night and lost, 53-49, leaving the Indians, Lions and Patriots all tied at 11-3 in League I play. Ward Melville had the best overall record at 16-4.

“All we talk about is putting a dot up on the wall. At times this year, we didn’t know if it was going to happen. We came together and it all kinda fell into place.”

— Alex Piccirillo

“It’s all we’ve talked about in the offseason,” Ward Melville head coach Alex Piccirillo said about winning the league title. “We’ve gone all spring, all summer, all fall; we’ve played 100 games. All we talk about is putting a dot up on the wall. At times this year, we didn’t know if it was going to happen. We came together and it all kinda fell into place.”

Senior Trevor Cronin, who averaged four to six points per game this year, finished Feb. 9 a game-high 18 points, 16 of them coming in the second half.

“If you’re going to leave him open, that’s what he’ll do to you,” Piccirillo said of Cronin. “He’s worked his tail off and got tremendously better. He just works hard and does whatever we ask him to do.”

For Cronin, who barely touched the ball two years ago as a sophomore on the junior varsity team, he wasn’t the only one reviving the game’s vitality.

“My teammates have been there for me all year,” Cronin said. “When they needed me to pick them up, I was there to pick them up today. It’s all about my teammates.”

In the collaborative effort, senior Brendan Martin poured in 16 points with a team-high four 3-pointers.  Junior Robert Soto contributed 15, and junior Ray Grabowski came through with a double-double on 11 points and 10 rebounds. Leading scorer Alex Sobel came back after missing three games with an ankle injury and scored four points.

Sobel said he felt a lot better being back on the court.

“It feels good,” Sobel said. “It wasn’t a very statistical game for me tonight, but it’s perfect because I have a week now to get ready for our next game. I expect to be 100 percent ready by the playoffs.”

Piccirillo said it was great to see Sobel back on the floor despite not putting up his usual numbers — he was averaging 16 points, 15 rebounds and almost five blocks a game this season prior to his injury.

“That’s what we want here for Ward Melville basketball — big team guys with everyone playing well together. That’s exactly what happened today.”

— Brendan Martin

“He blocks shots, he hinders guys from shooting layups,” the coach said. “He just changes the game.”

Sachem East seniors Ryan Panno and Ryan Sheehy combined for 30 points. Panno led with 18 points. Junior Ryan Kennedy had nine points off of three triples.

In a tale of two halves, the Patriots got scorching hot in the second, outscoring the Flaming Arrows 43-28 after being down 23-21 at halftime. Ward Melville went on a 12-2 run to conclude the third quarter. It was a big spark plug to finish strong.

“We started knocking down threes and getting stops,” Martin said. “Our stops led to early offense — big rebounds by Alex Sobel making blocked shots. We pushed the ball on the fast break and it got the home crowd fired up, too.”

Martin said Ward Melville strives to have every player contribute. He said he’s hoping having the team at full strength with help the Patriots get there this postseason.

“That’s what we want here for Ward Melville basketball — big team guys with everyone playing well together,” Martin said. “That’s exactly what happened today.”

Cronin enjoyed finishing the season with a league-clinching victory in front of family and friends.

“It feels great,” Cronin said of the win. “Hopefully, we can go far in the playoffs.”

No. 8-seeded Ward Melville hosts No. 9 Half Hollow Hills West Feb. 17 at 1 p.m.

This version has been updated to include who Ward Melville will be facing in the first round of playoffs.

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Northport's Danielle Pavinelli, on left, and Shea Cronin, on right, with Hannah Stockman after she scored her 1,000th career point. Photo by Emmet Hawkins

By Emmet Hawkins

Hannah Stockman knows how to score.

The junior knotted the game in the fourth quarter in epic fashion, recording her 1,000th career point with a move down low. After a brief stop in play to commemorate the milestone, she quickly got back in the swing of things, dropping another bucket to put the Tigers back on top against Central Islip and give them a lead they’d never relinquish. Stockman’s team-high 13 points helped the Tigers to a 41-37 win over the reigning Suffolk County champs Feb. 9. Northport finishes the season undefeated in League II (12-0).

Danielle Pavinelli shoots from the free-throw line. Photo by Emmet Hawkins

Stockman had one word to describe her accomplishment: “Incredible.” Although underclassmen stole the show on senior night, head coach Rich Castellano said his team is selfless. A share of the points proved that, with sophomore Kerry Dennin contributing nine points and junior Shea Cronin and sophomore Danielle Pavinelli adding eight points apiece.

“It is a team-first mentality, and these girls buy into the system,” Castellano said. “It’s about being unselfish and moving the ball around. I just tell them what to do, they’re the ones who execute it.”

In a back-and-forth defensive battle against her team’s rival,  guard Pavinelli showed the poise and leadership of a veteran player. She had a handful of assists and took charge in the fourth quarter to help secure the win. She prides herself on playing both sides of the ball and making her team better.

“I like to capitalize when I drive to the basket,” she said. “I’ve been playing with these girls a long time, so I’m comfortable giving up the ball.”

Central Islip guards Kaira Rodriguez and Naabea Assibey-Bonsu scored 16 and 11 points, respectively. Their efforts were not enough to overcome the scrappy hustle of guard Cronin or the clutch playmaking of Dennin, who grabbed 11 rebounds.

Unsure of who will be drawn in the first round of playoffs Feb. 16, Castellano said it doesn’t matter.

“I don’t think about it,” he said. :Whoever we get, we get. The game plan remains the same.”

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Patriots relay team places first at Millrose Games, counties

Allyson Gaedje crosses the finish line at the New York Road Runner Millrose Games finals for first place. Photo from Tom Youngs

They’ve had that feeling before — the pit in their stomach as they watched Gator run.

This wasn’t the typical scaly, dark olive-brown reptile the Ward Melville 4×400-meter relay team was watching. It was their anchor — Allyson “Gator” Gaedje.

She was sprinting across the final stretch of the race at the New York Road Runners Millrose Games Feb. 3, maintaining her Patriots’ lead with Westhampton Beach hot on her trail.

Ward Melville’s 4×400-meter relay quartet of Allyson Gaedje ,Elizabeth Radke, Sam Rutt and Sam SturgessPhoto from Tom Youngs

“So many things are going through your mind, but you really can’t process anything except ‘Gator, hold on, Gator, hold on,’” said leadoff runner Sam Rutt, who on the track was with teammates Elizabeth Radke and Sam Sturgess watching Gaedje as she beat Westhampton to the finish line. “Her smiling as she crossed the finish line ­— it was the best feeling for all of us.”

The Patriots completed the race in 3 minutes, 57.84 seconds for Ward Melville’s first win at the Millrose Games.

“It didn’t feel real,” said senior Sam Sturgess, who passed the baton off to Gaedje. “We’ve been told we can do it, but seeing it happen was unreal.”

Gaedje credited visualization as a strength in her preparation to compete.

“I like to picture how I want it to go, and it helps because once you’re in the race, you don’t have a lot of time to think, but you already have that mental image in your head — It makes it easier to stay focused on the goal,” she said. “Once I got the baton I was ready to get around the track as fast as I could.”

The team maintained it’s No. 1 position the entire way, a goal of Rutt’s. Being in Lane 6 she said she couldn’t see anyone behind her, and she wanted to keep it that way.

“I thought if no one could catch me we’d be in good shape,” the senior said.

“It takes brave individuals to dig in their heels and be patient to do things the right way, and to look ahead to the long term by believing and trusting in the process.”

— Tom Youngs

Westhampton stayed close behind, and after a shaky handoff to Radke, the Patriots fell to second.

“I went a little earlier than I should have,” the sophomore said. “I tried to do everything in my power to race well.”

Head coach Tom Youngs said after a sub-par fall cross country season, his runners are starting to come back around, getting back to the shape they were in at the end of last spring, where the same quartet capped off a highlight year with a third-place finish in the 4×800 relay at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals.

“It takes brave individuals to dig in their heels and be patient to do things the right way, and to look ahead to the long term by believing and trusting in the process,” Youngs said. “The effort and grit shown that Saturday was a direct result of these girls working to be the best versions of themselves each and every day. I could not be more proud of them, and I am blessed to have the opportunity to be a small part of their outstanding journey around the oval.”

The win motivated the relay team to finish first the following day at the Suffolk County indoor championship. Gaedje also won the 600 in 1:39.67, and Rutt took first in the 1,000 in 3:07.57. It was only Rutt’s second time competing in the event.

“I was surprised,” she said of placing first. “But I was comfortable, hanging back to make sure she had enough momentum left to propel her the last few meters. It was all about me staying on top of the others girls to get as many points as I could for us to compete for a team title.”

Kiera Hughes leaps over the hurdles in the 55-meter dash. She broke the school record twice. Photo from Kiera Hughes

Senior Kiera Hughes, who has been improving on her times all season, finished the 55 hurdles in 8.73, good for second in the county. Sophomore Megan Wood took seventh in the shot put with a throw of 33 feet, 8.5 inches, her personal best.

Hughes first broke the school record of 8.74, set in 2003, with an 8.63 finish. At the league championship, she broke her own record with an 8.60.

“I’m proud of the results of all my hard work thus far,” Hughes said, adding that breaking the school record, which is also the state standard, was a goal of hers. “I had wanted to set a time that I could kind of strive for. Going into each race I want to get better — just keep trying to beat myself. I’m my own best competition.”

After competing in her first state qualifier last season without the state standard, she’s more confident competing this time around, being ranked second in the county by a 100th of a second.

The Patriots will compete in the state qualifier meet held at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood Feb. 12 at 5 p.m.

“I’m a very determined person,” Hughes said. “I’ve also wanted to be the best in whatever I can. I want to improve myself every single race. I’m extremely competitive, so I think my work ethic — going through my drills, my warmup route — I’m doing the best I can to prepare myself to race as best as I can be. It’s all for the excitement and that thrill.”

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Someday other teams may be able to say they did it, but this Mount Sinai girls basketball team can say they did it first.

The Mustangs completed a perfect 20-0 regular season for the first time in school history with a 68-23 win against Hampton Bays at home on senior night Feb. 8.

Junior guard Gabby Sartori scored 21 points to lead Mount Sinai. She netted 17 points in the first half alone, going 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the first quarter and banking 11 of 12 attempts from the charity stripe by halftime.

“I don’t think we quite know yet what we just did,” Sartori said, laughing. “I didn’t know how to react at first. It’s just so surreal right now. It’s been such a long season and to see it culminate in this is amazing.”

“I don’t think we quite know yet what we just did.”

— Gabby Sartori

Senior Kayla Repperger put Mount Sinai on the board first on the way to an early 14-4 lead after eight minutes. By halftime, the Mustangs extended the advantage to 37-9 after a monster second stanza, outscoring Hampton Bays 23-5.

After the last few games the Mustangs wanted to clean up their act. Eleven players scored in the total team win. Kylie Budke finished with nine points, Casey Campo added eight and Brooke Cergol contributed seven.

“I’m very happy for the girls, and very proud of them, because they worked so hard,” head coach Jeff Koutsantanou said. “They wanted to set the right tone heading into playoffs, so they came out with a new intensity tonight — they really wanted to prove to everybody they’re back. I always believed in this team and knew if they worked hard anything can happen. They earned this.”

Mount Sinai was a step ahead of Hampton Bays all game, getting in the passing lane and stealing the ball, converting transition opportunities into points.

“They have great instincts,” Koutsantanou said. “My girls have the ability to see things — that’s what we do best sometimes. Everyone was scoring, everyone was passing the ball, they played the way we’re capable of, and when they play like that the sky’s the limit.”

“They wanted to set the right tone heading into playoffs, so they came out with a new intensity tonight — they really wanted to prove to everybody they’re back.”

— Jeff Koutsantanou

Although going undefeated wasn’t the primary goal for this season — the Mustangs are focused on defending their Suffolk County title — as the unblemished season started to take form there was some fear of history repeating itself. Mount Sinai fell in a close last game of the 2016-17 season to Shoreham-Wading River.

“It was in the back of my mind — I was thinking about it all day,” Sartori said of the potential of losing in the last game. “But we played like a team today, got the job done early and that’s what really got us on top. It’s a sigh of relief.”

Senior captain Olivia Williams said this was just another step in the direction of her team’s ultimate goal.

“This historic run is something I’m going to remember forever,” she said. “We’re definitely going to have to put in extra work, but I feel confident that if we come together we can do it.”

The Mustangs will compete Feb. 17 in the Class A quarterfinals at home. The time is to be determined.

Sartori said even though every game presents a new challenge, she thinks her team has the talent to beat anyone.

“We’re not perfect right now,” she said. “Our record may show it, but we’re definitely going to face tougher competitors. I think we can’t dwell on this for long. We’ll celebrate for the time being, but we have to get back to work tomorrow. That’s what’s great about our team — we can shift gears quick. Playoffs are definitely going to be a different atmosphere and we need to be ready for it.”

This version was updated Feb. 9 at 11:30 a.m. with additional information.

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Mustangs are one win away from historic perfect season

Gabby Sartori drives the lane. Photo by Desirée Keegan

By Desirée Keegan

Gabby Sartori turned in her strongest showing of the season at the right time.

Mount Sinai’s junior guard tallied 15 of her game-high 28 points in the third quarter to put the contest out of reach in her girls basketball team’s 56-25 win at Miller Place Feb. 2. She also  finished with seven rebounds and five assists.

Olivia Williams muscles her way to the basket. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“I thought Gabby had an unbelievable game,” head coach Jeff Koutsantanou said of the starter who eclipsed 1,500 career points earlier this season. “Best of the year.”

After Mount Sinai raced to a 10-0 start, Miller Place’s Ally Tarantino amped up the intensity, scoring all 11 of her points in the first half to get her team back within striking distance. The Panthers closed within one point twice, the second time, coming on a Tarantino buzzer-beater to bring the halftime score to 19-18. Sartori, who was guarding senior Jess Iavaroni in the first half, holding her scoreless, switched her focus to Tarantino, keeping her off the stat sheet in the second.

The Mustangs used five forced turnovers to swing the momentum back in its favor to open the third. Sartoti said her team never counted itself out.

“You can’t lose hope,” she said. “You have to keep your head up, especially when people are looking up to you. Our coaches did a good job of keeping us composed, we didn’t read into things. When the game gets close, we embrace it. I have so much fun in a game like this.”

Casey Campo carries the ball into Miller Place’s zone. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Mustangs finished with seven total turnovers and outscored the Panthers 37-7 in the second half. Junior guard Brooke Cergol, who added seven points and four assists, said the team used halftime to get a better game plan in place.

“At halftime, we all listen to each other talk about what we should keep doing, and what we need to change, and coming out in the third quarter we went after it,” she said. “What I love about this team is we all give our maximum effort. We have been in close games before, and we know how to handle it.”

Even when Mount Sinai wasn’t forcing turnovers, heavy defensive pressure was enough to disrupt Miller Place’s offensive flow.

“We like creating transition opportunity off turnovers — we like getting steals — and if we don’t get a steal or we don’t force a turnover, they’re 15 seconds into the shot clock, at which point, they don’t have a lot of time to execute,” assistant coach John Mees said. “It manifested into some good results today.”

With one game left this season, Mount Sinai is one step closer to making history. Last year, the Mustangs were one win away from a perfect season, dropping the last match of the regular season to Shoreham-Wading River. Mount Sinai improved to 19-0 overall and 15-0 in League VI with its latest win, and will host Hampton Bays Feb. 8, at 5:45 p.m., with the hope of becoming the first Mustangs team to complete a perfect season.

Brooke Cergol maintains possession. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Mees said the younger athletes in the district are already motivated to emulate what they see upperclassmen doing out on the court. Sartori said she already sees it in the girls who come to clinics and to watch games.

“These girls are so confident in their abilities that they have loftier goals than just 20 wins and being undefeated, and they’d rather take a loss and hold up that state championship trophy,” Mees said. “Where it’s most impactful is how it affects the younger girls in the community. They look up to these girls as heroines. When it’s written up in the paper ‘Mustangs go undefeated,’ it inspires the younger girls to want to play, and that makes our program stronger going forward.”

Even though the victory would be a cherry on top of an already great season for the upperclassmen on senior night, the girls said they already have a playoff mindset, looking to defend their Suffolk County title.

“We were talking about it happening, but have no idea how it’s going to feel, but we’re excited,” Sartori said. “To see where we are now and how far we’ve come, it shows the amount of hard work we put into this season. It’s all coming to fruition now.”

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Robert Soto leaps up to the basket between two defenders. Photo by Jim Ferchland

By Jim Ferchland

Junior Ray Grabowski was attacking the basket at will, leading the charge for Ward Melville with 24 points.

Ray Grabowski reaches for the rim. Photo by Jim Ferchland

His counterparts Brendan Martin and Robert Soto each contributed 13 points in a comfortable 67-46 road win over Sachem North Feb. 6. The Patriots advance to 10-3 in League I while Sachem North falls to the very bottom of League I at 1-12. Ward Melville and Longwood sit in the No. 2 spot, one win behind Brentwood (11-2) in first place.

“League I is an absolute jungle,” Ward Melville head coach Alex Piccirillo said. “Any time you can go on the road and win, it’s amazing. We work hard. We planned for this. That’s what we do.”

Grabowski said he felt pretty good with his offensive game. He made three 3-pointers and six field goals. He also made seven trips to the foul line.

“I was hitting shots when I was open,” Grabowski said. “I realized right away that I was bigger than every single one of those kids and took them to the hoop every single time.”

At the end of the first half, Ward Melville was up 24-18. The Patriots poured it in from outside the perimeter in the second half, knocking down seven 3-pointers. They outscored the Flaming arrows 43-28 in the final 16 minutes.

“We were able to push the ball more and gets the shots that we wanted,” Piccirillo said, noting his team eventually found the pace of play it’s accustomed to. “We did a much better job in the second half.”

Brendan Martin calls a play as he moves the ball into Sachem North territory. Photo by Jim Ferchland

Without 6-foot, 9-inch leading scorer Alex Sobel, out with an ankle injury since Jan. 26, the team hasn’t seemed to miss a beat, going 2-1 in the last three games.

“We just play the same way,” Piccirillo said. “It’s a team game. We continue to do what we do. We’re going to rebound, defend, box out and we’re going be physical.”

Ward Melville’s point guard Martin only scored two points in the first half, but found his sweet spot in the second, also knocking down three triples.

“My teammates and my coaches told me to keep on shooting it,” Martin said. “I came out and made three in a row, so it felt pretty good.”

Even with the team in good standing without Sobel, Martin said he hopes to be competing alongside his comrade again this season.

“Sobel is a Top 5 player in the county,” he said. “We miss him a lot, and hopefully we’ll have him back before the playoffs.”

Sachem North junior Bradley Anacreon lead the Flaming arrows with 15 points. He was the only player in double figures.

Ward Melville is scheduled to play at home against Sachem East Feb. 9 at 6:15 p.m.

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Alan Dylan Smith reaches for the rim over the block. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Comsewogue’s 10 shots from beyond the arc accounted for almost half of the boys basketball team’s total points in a must-win game against West Babylon Feb. 2. The 71-53 victory puts the Warriors one win away from making the postseason.

Patrick Billings battles in the paint. Photo by Bill Landon

Despite the scoring frenzy, with six 3-pointers scored in the first half, three from senior Tom McGuire alone, that wasn’t what impressed head coach Joel Sutherland the most.

“It was our intensity on the defensive end,” he said. “Honestly, that’s the best defensive effort we’ve had all season.”

From opening tipoff West Babylon faced surmounting pressure, struggling to clear the ball which led to minimal looks at the basket. After the first eight minutes, the Warriors had already taken a commanding 26-9 lead.

“We definitely prepped for them more than last time — this time we worked on our 1-3-1 [defense] and stopping them at half court,” McGuire said. “The coaches really got us ready and it showed.”

McGuire made his fourth and fifth 3-pointers in the third quarter, ending the eight minutes with eight of his game-high 19 points. Pat Billings, who scored five points in the third, finished with a double-double on 12 points and 21 rebounds. He said the pressure has been difficult to manage, but his Warriors are motivated, and are ready to battle it out Feb. 8 at home against Half Hollow Hills West. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:45 p.m.

“It’s just coming down to the wire — we need to win two games and that was in our minds because we don’t want our season to end,” Billings said. “We’ll game plan, we’ll look at some film to see what they do best.”

Dylan Morris Gray lays up for two. Photo by Bill Landon

Comsewogue senior Rob Orzelowski, who scored 10 of his 13 points in the second quarter, went 5-for-6 from the charity stripe. He said he hopes his team can come into Thursday with the same preparedness so that he can keep playing with his Warriors.

“We were practicing a lot for this — we went over a lot of defenses and offenses, we were switching things up and it worked out today,” Orzelowski said. “We had chemistry, and the shots were falling tonight.”

Comsewogue improves to 10-9 overall and 5-6 in League IV. Half Hollow Hills West sits right above the Warriors in the standings at 7-4, with a 14-5 overall mark.

“We’ve got a tough one on Thursday, so we’re going to prepare for it,” Sutherland said. “[My team] executed in the half-court sets, the guys were rotating and playing together, they shared the ball offensively, it was a joy to see and it was just a total team win. [We have another winnable game ahead of us], and we’re going to come out and throw everything we have at them, and let the chips fall where they will.”

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Girls top East Islip for first time in three years, boys team places fourth

For the first time in three years, Middle Country's girls bowling team bested East Islip for the county crown. Photo by Jim Ferchland

By Jim Ferchland

The intensity was up and the noise level high as Middle Country and East Islip found themselves in familiar territory — duking it out for the county title for seven hours Feb. 3. Middle Country won by 42 pins after erasing an 43-pin deficit heading into game six to finally overcome East Islip after coming in second to the Redmen the last two years.

With emotional hugs and tears, Middle Country won its final game 1,147 to 1,062 after being up in games one through three. Amanda Scarfogliero finished with a 1,317 series, and saved her best for last, a 256 in Game 6, the team’s second highest score. No one on Middle Country bowled lower than a 202 in the final game. Scarfogliero was in tears as the final scores were being calculated.

Middle Country’s Julie Acosta. Photo by Jim Ferchland

“My heart dropped honestly,” Scarfogliero said. “I made a promise to this team and my parents that I’d get Middle Country up to Syracuse. That’s exactly what we did. I needed to get that last game-high, and I did it.”

Middle Country rallied back to win 6,454 to 6,412 in a thriller at Bowlero in Sayville, winning four of the six games.

Middle Country’s 69-year-old head coach Mandy Dominguez announced he will be retiring after coaching for 28 years and in Middle Country for 18.

“I’m so proud of these girls,” Dominguez said. “The girls did not give up. They all had 200s in the final game. They’re resilient, and a tough group of girls.”

East Islip came out on fire in Game 4 and Game 5, out-bowling Middle Country 1,131 to 1,020 in the latter to turn a 248-pin deficit into the 43-pin lead.

“I knew we could come back,” Dominguez said. “We were just hoping that East Islip wouldn’t get hot. The [Middle Country] girls came through and that’s the main thing.”

Freshman Hannah Skalacki came in with the highest average in the county for Middle Country at 223. She said there was a lot of pressure taking down East Islip. She rolled a 255 in Game 1 of a 1,330 series.

“I love competition,” Skalacki said. “When everything was going on, I felt the tension going everywhere.”

Middle Country’s Hannah Skalacki. Photo by Jim Ferchland

Senior Julie Acosta was the last bowler in starting rotation for Middle Country. She finished the last game with a 225 and had the team’s high game with a 279. Middle Country had mathematically already won before she bowled her final frame.

“I was so nervous,” Acosta said finishing up her game. “Knowing that we won, I just wanted it to be over with and be able to celebrate with my team.”

The last time Acosta went to states, she was in seventh grade, which was her first season with Middle Country.

In Dominguez’s final season coaching, he said going to the states is icing on the cake. The team will compete at The Oncenter March 10 at 9 a.m.

“I’m so happy, especially very happy for the girls,” Dominguez said. “East Islip has beat us every year for the past three or four years. This year, the seniors came through and they worked hard. They’re a great bunch of girls and a great bunch of talented bowlers.”


In other county bowling news:

Middle Country’s boys bowling placed fourth with 6,294 points.

East Islip claimed first by a landslide with 6,829 points to earn back-to-back county titles. In second was West Babylon with 6,353 and Sachem in third with 6,346.

Comsewogue’s. Hannah Manetta. Photo by Jim Ferchland

Middle Country junior Noah Axinn bowled a 300 in his second game. He’s never bowled a sanctioned 300 before.

Senior Thomas Lettich finished sixth in the county in with a 223 average for Middle County. He has the fourth highest series in the county at 783. He will go to Syracuse to play in the All-Star game.

Comsewogue girls bowling team placed fifth in the county championship with 5,612 points. The Warriors won three of their six games.

“It’s kinda where I thought we would be,” Comsewogue head coach Bo Frimmer said. “I was hoping that we would somehow come in third, because it’s always tough to beat East Islip and Middle Country.”

Junior Hannah Manetta has the seventh highest average in the county at 216. She bowled an average of 221 in the tournament. Last year, Warriors finished in sixth.

“This year we bowled against a lot of the harder teams, which is when you bowl against harder competitors, it leads you to bowl better,” Manetta said. “It was pretty tough this year.”

This post was updated Feb. 5 to correct the deficit Middle Country overcame for the win.

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Northport's girls basketball team took the League II title with a 50-42 win over Walt Whitman to remain undefeated (11-0). Photo by Jim Ferchland

By Jim Ferchland

League II play did not phase Rich Castellano and his Northport Tigers this season.

Hannah Stockman ready to make a pass. Photo by Jim Ferchland

The girls basketball team took down Walt Whitman on the road Feb. 2 in a 50-42 victory to remain undefeated at 11-0 and claim the league crown. Junior guard Hannah Stockman was the catalyst with 16 points.

With the Tigers lead 23-19 at the halftime break, the four-year varsity player’s mind was set on taking the title.

“From the beginning of the season our goal was to be league champions,” Stockman said. “Tonight, we finally achieved that.”

Castellano said he was expecting a close game against Walt Whitman. The last time the Tigers faced off against the Wildcats Jan. 9, Northport won a tight 48-44 decision.

“I’ve been playing against coach Dan Trebour for many years and our games are always close,” Castellano said. “They play good defense, we play good defense. Every shot is contested. It’s always close at best.”

Kelly McLaughlin jumps for the 3-pointer. Photo by Jim Ferchland

Stockman and sophomore guard Danielle Pavinelli notched double-digit point totals for Northport. Pavinelli finished with 10 points, six of them coming the third quarter.

The Tigers faced an unfortunate scene late in the first quarter when one of their sharpshooters hit the floor hard. Senior guard and four-year varsity player Shelby Maldavir tripped and landed hard on her knee. She didn’t return to the court, finishing with one point.

“I felt a little pop right on my knee cap,” Maldavir said. “The doctors looked at it and said it’s not an ACL injury. The best it could be is just a bruise.”

Castellano said losing Maldavir, one of his biggest point scorers, was a tough break.

“That hurt us,” Castellano said. “She’s a leader. She’s an outside threat — she hits threes. But the testament of the team is that you have players to replace. That’s why you have 15 girls on the team.”

Northport sophomore guard Kelly McLaughlin filled in for Maldavir. She had five points with two three throws made late in the fourth quarter.

Danielle Pavinelli leaps above the blocks as she reaches for the rim. Photo by Jim Ferchland

Castellano rotated players for different assignments to set them up for success. After Maldavir’s injury, Castellano said he wanted to “go big” and bring in 5-foot, 10-inch sophomore Leah Morawski. When she took to the court, McLaughlin came in to provide inside help for sophomore forward Kerry Dennin, who caught 16 rebounds on the night.

“You put all of those little pieces together and it’s an 8-point win,” Castellano said. “We were just a little better tonight.”

Walt Whitman’s Meghan Soulias caught fire in the second half scoring 19 of her game-high 23 points in the second half. Twelve of them came in third quarter — with two threes — where the Wildcats cut deficit to five. Four other players scored for Walt Whitman, but she was the only player in double figures.

“She’s a great player,” Castellano said of Soulias. “We knew that. We know she’s going to get her points.”

Northport has won over 20 league titles and 10 county championships under Castellano, who has been at the helm for 39 years.  Northport is scheduled to face Central Islip Feb. 9 in the final game of the regular season. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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