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Bill Landon

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Falyn Dwyer reaches for the rim in Harborfields' 52-41 loss to Islip in the Suffolk County Class A championship game. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Harborfields led by 10 points early in the third quarter, but fouls troubled the Tornadoes’ defense, as Islip rallied back, capping off the quarter with a 3-pointer to retake the lead, 35-34. The Buccaneers slowly creeped ahead as a result of opportunities at the foul line, and put the game away 52-41 to win the Suffolk County Class A championship at Suffolk County Community College in Selden, Friday night.

Angela Deren nails a jump-shot on here way to eight points on the night. Photo by Bill Landon
Angela Deren nails a jump-shot on here way to eight points on the night. Photo by Bill Landon

Harborfields only mustered five points in the first quarter, and with just over six minutes left in the hald, with Islip ahead 11-10, Harborfields senior guard Angela Deren picked off an Islip in-bounds pass and cashed in to put the Tornadoes out front, 12-11. Deren, with the hot hand in the second quarter, nailed her second trey of the period to give her team a 19-13 lead with just over three minutes remaining until the break.

Harborfields sophomore guard Erin Tucker went to the line shooting two and split her appearance, but teammate Grace Zagaja, a junior center, swished both of hers, to give the Tornadoes a 24-16 lead at the end of the eight minutes.

Harborfields junior guard Christiana de Borja hit her first trifecta of the game two minutes into the third period — something she’s done all season long — but the powerhouse point guard found herself in foul trouble as the quarter wore on.

With de Borja committing her fourth personal foul, Harborfields head coach Glenn Lavey benched his starter with two minutes left in the third, to save her for the fourth.

The Tornadoes squandered many opportunities at the free-throw line, and Islip, trailing by two, hit a game-changing 3-pointer to retake the lead, 35-34. Despite Harborfields’ crowd chanting during Islip’s next chance at the charity stripe, the Buccaneers swished both attempts to take a three-point lead into the final quarter.

The momentum shifted Islip’s way as the Buccaneers surged ahead 43-34 with 4:51 left in regulation.

Back in action, de Borja banked her second trey of the game to help her team draw with six points, but her defensive pressure was muted, as her next foul would be her last.

Christiana de Borja battles in the paint. Photo by Bill Landon
Christiana de Borja battles in the paint. Photo by Bill Landon

Zagaja and teammate Kate Tardo, a junior forward, also fouled out.

Leading 45-37 with just over three minutes remaining, Islip slowed the pace and let the shot clock wind down. Desperate to stop the clock, the Tornadoes that remained in the game, fouled their opponent, but the strategy failed, as Islip was deadly from the free-throw line.

“They played better than us — they settled in and we needed to make a few shots just to keep the momentum going, but then they got hot and we went cold at the wrong time,”.Lavey said.

de Borja finished with a team-high 11 points, while Deren and junior forward Falyn Dwyer added eight points apiece, and Tucker followed close behind them with seven. With only one senior graduating off the roster, Harborfields can be confident knowing how far the team has come, and know what another year of experience can bring to those returning, to push them further through the bracket next season.

“We couldn’t press as hard as we did earlier in the game,” Lavey said.” We were being the aggressor and then we got tentative on defense because of foul trouble, so that was a problem for us.”

Mount Sinai junior Victoria Johnson scores her 1,000th career point in loss

Mount Sinai's Victoria Johnson scored her 1,000th point in the Mustangs' first-round Class A playoff loss to Harborfields on Feb. 13. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Harborfields enjoyed a 22-point lead midway through the third quarter, and despite Mount Sinai rallying to close within seven points with just over two minutes left in the game, the Tornadoes’ girls’ basketball team closed with a late surge of its own, to claim a 58-47 victory in the opening round of the Class A playoffs Saturday morning.

Mount Sinai led 13-12 after eight minutes, but managed just four points to Harborfields’ 19 in the second.

Harborfields' Christiana de Borja gets fouled by Mount Sinai's Olivia Williams during the Tornadoes' 58-47 win over the Mustangs in the opening round of the Class A playoffs on Feb. 13. Photo by Bill Landon
Harborfields’ Christiana de Borja gets fouled by Mount Sinai’s Olivia Williams. Photo by Bill Landon

Harborfields point guard Christiana de Borja had the hot hand through the first half, as she drove the lane and muscled her way to the rim, drawing fouls along the way. The five-foot, two-inch junior tallied 13 points over the two quarters.

As Mount Sinai double-teamed de Borja, the Mustangs left the lane opened for Harborfields sophomore guard Erin Tucker, who netted four field goals and a free-throw to add nine more points to the Tornadoes’ 31-17 halftime advantage.

“We always play Mount Sinai in other sports, so we know not to underestimate them, and they came out very strong in the first quarter,” Tucker said. “It’s what we expected. They had a tough second quarter, but we knew they’d come back.”

Three-pointers were flying to open the third quarter, as de Borja banked a pair and Mount Sinai junior guard Victoria Johnson swished her second and third of the game, but still, the Tornadoes edged ahead 43-28 to begin the final quarter.

Harborfields' Falyn Dwyer attempts a jumper. Photo by Bill Landon
Harborfields’ Falyn Dwyer attempts a jumper. Photo by Bill Landon

The Mustangs opened the last eight minutes with two fast breaks that paid dividends for Johnson, who was fouled while shooting, and calmly swished both. The back end marked her 1,000th point of her varsity career.

“They’re really tough on defense,” Johnson said of Harborfields. “We ran on them because they’re a very fast team and they were going to try to stop us in the middle. We had one rough quarter, but we gave it our best. We’re a young team so we’ll make a run next year.”

She’s the first basketball player to score 1,000 points as a Mustang.

“That is truly an amazing accomplishment,” Mount Sinai head coach Michael Pappalardo said. “We are so proud of her.”

Tucker netted two more points at the free-throw line for the Tornadoes, to again make it an 11-point game.

Mount Sinai inbounded the ball, throwing it the length of the court, where freshman guard Margaret Kopcienski gained possession and, with a spin move, found the rim to trim the deficit back to nine points.

Mount Sinai junior center Veronica Venezia made here presence known down low as the she muscled her way to the rim on a put-back to help her team trail by seven with 1:41 left in the game, but the Mustangs would not come any closer.

“The second quarter is where we got hurt, but we’re graduating two seniors and we’re returning 12 — including all five starters — so we’re looking forward to the off-season,” Pappalardo said. “[Harborfields has] great players, and to be with them in the final minutes makes me proud of our team.”

Mount Sinai's Gabby Sartori drives the lane. Photo by Bill Landon
Mount Sinai’s Gabby Sartori drives the lane. Photo by Bill Landon

In a foul-riddled final minute, both teams traded points at the charity stripe. Mount Sinai’s Gabby Sartori went to the line shooting three, and the ninth-grade guard swished all of her opportunities.

“They were very good, and we knew they were going to come up strong on defense,” Sartori said. “I was getting face-guarded the whole time, but my team knew what to do. We gave it all we had; we rose the challenge — last year we came here and lost by 30.”

With six seconds left, de Borja, who led her team in scoring with 23 points, put the final points on the scoreboard off of free throws. Tucker finished the game with 12 points.

Atop the leaderboard for Mount Sinai was Johnson with 16 points, followed by Sartori, who sank 13.

“They spotted us 22 points, and we knew they would come back because they have a lot of talented players, but I thought our kids had the resolve to make the big plays to stop those runs,” Harborfields head coach Glenn Lavey said. “Any time we see trouble we get the ball to Christiana de Borja, and having her on the floor is like a security blanket. As much as they were cutting into our lead, I knew we had Chris de Borja on the court.”

Mount Sinai's Veronica Venezia shoots from the top of the key. Photo by Bill Landon
Mount Sinai’s Veronica Venezia shoots from the top of the key. Photo by Bill Landon

With the win, Harborfields advances to the next round, where the Tornadoes take on Elwood-John Glenn on the road Tuesday. Tipoff scheduled for 2 p.m.

The girls from Elwood-John Glenn were in the stands throughout most of the game, sitting quietly together as they scouted their next opponent. The squad left midway through the fourth to get ready for their 2 p.m. game.

“It was really a motivator for us having them watching, because we wanted to show them that we’re a force to be reckoned with,” de Borja said. “We’re excited about playing John Glenn. They’ve always been a rival, so we’re excited about that game.”

Centereach senior Kevin Callahan drives the baseline around Ward Melville junior Dominic Pryor. Photo by Bill Landon
Ward Melville junior Dominic Pryor reaches for the ball on a rebound. Photo by Bill Landon
Ward Melville junior Dominic Pryor reaches for the ball on a rebound. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Centereach achieved something this season that hasn’t happened since 2010: they made it to the postseason. Not only did the boys’ basketball team make the playoffs, the No. 14 seed hosted No. 19 Ward Melville on its own home court. The Cougars were able to close within eight points midway through the final quarter, but that was the closest they would get, as the Patriots floored it in the final minutes to put the game away, 59-41.

Ward Melville stretched its legs early, and edged ahead 12-4 after eight minutes of play. The Patriots’ defense was swarming, blocking several shots.

While the Cougars struggled offensively, the Patriots found their 3-point range during the second quarter, with senior Mathew O’Hea netting one, and teammate Mathew Hudzik, a junior, swishing his second trey of the game, to put the team out front 22-13 at the halftime break.

Ward Melville opened the second half much like it did the first, with 3-pointers from O’Hea and Hudzik. Centereach countered when Kevin Callahan fouled from 3-point land. Despite thunderous calls from the visiting crowd, the senior swished all three attempts.

Centereach junior Jon Agostino drives the lane as he makes his way to the rim. Photo by Bill Landon
Centereach junior Jon Agostino drives the lane as he makes his way to the rim. Photo by Bill Landon

“We haven’t made it in a while — it’s a different mindset and it’s a big deal,” Callahan said. “It’s a big crowd and lot of people come out, so it’s a lot of pressure.”

Centereach senior Justin Eck also nailed a 3-point field goal, to make it a 10-point game with two minutes left in the third.

“We focused on this round just like we did with the in-season games,” Eck said. “We needed to focus on our game plan. … We focused on execution — we tried to stay loose and play our game.”

Centereach junior Jon Agostino hit his second 3-pointer to make it a nine point game, and both teams traded points before the Cougars, on a defensive steal, converted the opportunity to draw within eight points with 4:03 left in regulation.

“Tonight we fed off of our defensive energy,” Ward Melville head coach Alexander Piccirillo said. “We thrived on stops, or holding someone to just one shot or forcing a bad shot, and that translates to the offensive side of the ball.”

Hudzik executed his fifth trifecta of the evening to re-extend the Patriots’ lead, and with time running out, Centereach was forced to arrest the clock. The Cougars sent Hudzik to the line after a foul, and the junior went 6-for-6 from the charity stripe to put the game out of reach.

Centereach senior Justin Eck scores a layup while Ward Melville junior Mathew Hudzik reaches for the block. Photo by Bill Landon
Centereach senior Justin Eck scores a layup while Ward Melville junior Mathew Hudzik reaches for the block. Photo by Bill Landon

“We looked at the film from our loss to Commack [10 days ago] and we learned from that,” said Hudzik, who scored 21 points on the evening. “We did our best to do everything right that we did wrong in that game.”

According to Centereach head coach Ed Miller, having endured a long playoff drought, this season was a testament to the commitment of his Cougars senior leadership.

“They came out and shot the ball well, and you can’t take anything away from them,” he said of Ward Melville. “They made it very difficult to play against them. Alex does a great job over there and they’re in the right spots.”

Miller added that he was proud of his team, and admired their sense of urgency and the contribution each of them made this season.

“They’ve set the stage they laid the groundwork to get our program back to where we want to be,” he said. “I know the effort that they put into the off season, so it was my seniors that I was most impressed with.”

Ward Melville junior Noah Kepes said his team’s preparation for this game was the same as it was for the regular season, and will be for the rest of the postseason.

Ward Melville junior Mathew Hudzik scores one of his five 3-pointers. Photo by Bill Landon
Ward Melville junior Mathew Hudzik scores one of his five 3-pointers. Photo by Bill Landon

“We tried to not get all in our heads, because it’s a playoff game,” he said. “We’ve been working on defensive slides every day in practice. Just the same thing we’ve been doing — it’s like any other game.”

The Patriots hit the road tomorrow, Feb. 13, to take on No. 3-seeeded Half Hollow Hills West, with tipoff scheduled for noon.

“We’ll get a film from somebody in their league, we’ll get a scouting report, we’ll get a good practice in tomorrow and then we’re going to get on the bus and go over there,” Piccirillo said. “We’re going to defend like crazy; we’re going to be ready for them, and I hope they’re ready for us.”

Katie Reilly goes to the rim. Photo by Bill Landon
Katie Reilly goes to the rim. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Needing a win to earn a share of the League III championship title, the Huntington girls’ basketball team took care of business Tuesday night, defeating Smithtown East on the road, 63-50. It was senior night for the Bulls, who were able to close within 11 points late, before falling to the Blue Devils.

Huntington sophomore Alex Heuwetter had the hot hand early, scoring seven points, while teammate Anna Gulizio, a junior, added six to put their team out front 21-9 after eight minutes of play.

Having trouble scoring from the paint, Smithtown East unleashed its 3-point game, with juniors Tori Redmond, Jordi DeBernardo and Alex Schultz netting treys in the second quarter. But Huntington answered back with four 3-pointers of its own, two of which were by senior guard Katie Reilly, propelling the Blue Devils to a 40-24 advantage to open the second half.

“They came out with a lot of passion, especially on a night like this, so we should’ve taken them more seriously,” Reilly said. “I thought we played pretty good, but I think we could’ve played stronger defensively. All in all, we did all right.”

Battling the boards all night for the Bulls was Nina DeStefano, who rebounded several missed shots for putbacks. DeBernardo nailed her second trifecta of the game as Smithtown East outscored Huntington 13-12 after eight minutes, to trail 52-37 heading into the final quarter.

Nina DeStefano fights for possession under the board. Photo by Bill Landon
Nina DeStefano fights for possession under the board. Photo by Bill Landon

Huntington senior Brooke Baade sparked the offense with a field goal and her third 3-pointer of the game, and Heuwetter banked a pair of field goals to put a stop to the Bull’s late-game surge.

Schultz swished a pair of 3-pointers late and DeStefano netted two field goals, but it was too little too late for Smithtown East, as Huntington took the win to finish 12-1 in League III, and tie Riverhead for a share of the league title.

“I knew that they were going to be tough,” DeStefano said. “They’re in first place in our league for a reason. It was a struggle under the boards because they have a lot of good rebounders.”

Schultz led her team in scoring with 15 points, while DeStefano followed close behind with 12 and Redmond tacked on 10.

“Nina DeStefano had an outstanding game for us on senior night, Tatiana Jean did a great job rebounding the ball and Ceili Williams, our sophomore point guard, had one of the best games she’s had for us, and sky’s the limit for her,” Smithtown East head coach Tom Vulin said. “So as a team, we played well together. We cut the deficit to 11 so a couple of turnovers here and there could’ve made it closer.”

Atop the leaderboard for Huntington was Heuwetter with 16 points, Reilly netted 14 and Baade banked 11.

Anna Gulizio drives to the rim. Photo by Bill Landon
Anna Gulizio drives to the rim. Photo by Bill Landon

“They’re a tough team — they’re in third place in our conference and they have a lot of good shooters,” Heuwetter said. “Our defense could’ve been better. They were popping threes like crazy.”

Clinching a playoff berth the week before, No. 19 Smithtown East opened the postseason with an out-bracket game against No. 14 Hauppauge, but results were not available by press time.

“Because of all the snow, our playoff season starts tomorrow, so we’ll know sometime tomorrow morning who we’ll face,” Vulin said following the loss. “I’ll get as much information as I can and we’ll go after it.”

Heuwetter said her team suffered a bitter defeat deep into the playoffs last year, so the Blue Devils are looking for a comeback performance heading into this year’s postseason. Huntington goes into the postseason as the No. 6 seed, and will host No. 11 Half Hollow Hills West on Friday at 5 p.m.

“We really want it,” she said. “Last year we went deep into the playoffs, but we were really upset that we couldn’t get farther, so we’ll use last years’ playoff defeat as motivation to get as far as we can this year.”

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Mason Cline attempts a basket in Rocky Point's last minute 73-68 loss to Amityville on Feb. 4. Photo by Bill Landon.

By Bill Landon

Rocky Point led most of the way, but the boys’ basketball team let the lead slip away when it mattered most, losing its League V matchup against Amityville in the final minute Thursday night, 73-68.

Harry Lynch makes his way through traffic in Rocky Point's last minute 73-68 loss to Amityville on Feb. 4. Photo by Bill Landon
Harry Lynch makes his way through traffic. Photo by Bill Landon

Harry Lynch sparked the Eagles’ offense, helping to keep his team out in front 11-8 at the 3:40 mark of the first quarter. The senior guard drove the lane with reckless abandon, as he fought his way to the rim and helped stretch his team’s lead to 21-17 by the end of the first eight minutes.

Amityville picked away at the deficit, drawing within three points in the second quarter, but Lynch scored his fourteenth point as time ran out, and the Eagles took a 29-25 advantage into the halftime break.

The matchup grew physical, which led to multiple penalties, but Rocky Point failed to convert most opportunities at the free-throw line. The Warriors battled back to take their first lead of the game, 37-35, at the 3:47 mark of the third quarter.

Lynch went to the charity stripe shooting two and split the appearance to help his team close within one point, and Rocky Point senior Colin Kotarski went to the line shooting two next, and nailed both, as the Eagles retook the lead.

After a Warriors field goal that flipped the score, Rocky Point senior Ben Collesidis, with a defensive pick, took the ball down the stretch and converted his opportunity into points to again turn the tables for both teams, giving the Eagles a 40-39 edge.

Ben Collesidis goes to the rim. Photo by Bill Landon
Ben Collesidis goes to the rim. Photo by Bill Landon

With the teams knotted at 43-43 late in the third quarter, Lynch nailed a clutch 3-pointer, and teammate Mason Cline, also a senior, did the same. At the end of the quarter, Rocky Point led 49-43.

With both teams finding their 3-point rhythm, Amityville answered the Eagles with a Joshua Serrano trifecta to make it a three-point game. Cline had his own answer for his opponent though, as he swished his fourth trey of the game.

The clock wound down, and both teams traded points at the charity stripe. Kotarski was fouled while shooting and tacked on two points for a 60-55 Eagles lead with just over three minutes left in regulation, but Amityville hit a 3-pointer with 1:02 left to play, for a 67-65 lead. Another free throw point made it a 3-point game, again.

Lynch went to the line shooting a 1-and-1 opportunity, and sank both to help his team draw within one point, but with less than 30 seconds left, Serrano made two more appearances at the stripe, and cashed in on all four attempts, to put the game out of reach.

Lynch topped the scoresheet with 27 points, while Cline banked 19 and Kotarski added 14.

Colin Kotarski scores two points. Photo by Bill Landon
Colin Kotarski scores two points. Photo by Bill Landon

The Eagles hit 65 percent of their free throws on the night, while Amityville neared 80 percent.

“We were winning the whole way,” Rocky Point head coach James Jordan said. “We missed a lot of foul shots and that cost us the game. We play Islip on Monday. We’ve got to do a better job at rebounding and that’s a team we have to beat.”

With one game remaining, Jordan said that his team needs one more win to have a better chance at a run in the postseason. Currently, the team sits at 6-5, so the head coach is hoping for a higher seed with one more victory.

Rocky Point was supposed to travel to Islip on Monday, Feb. 8, but on account of the snow, the game has been postponed with no makeup date currently scheduled.

Noah Kepes drives the lane. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Tim Specht reaches for the rim from inside the paint. Photo by Bill Landon
Tim Specht reaches for the rim from inside the paint. Photo by Bill Landon

With two games left to play in the regular season, the Ward Melville boys’ basketball team, at 6-5 in League I, was playing for its postseason life when the team hit the road to take on Commack Tuesday.

The game was close through three quarters, but Commack, also at 6-5 at the start of the game, slowly edged ahead in a game largely decided at the free-throw line, to win 56-45.

The Patriots led by two points after the first eight minutes of play, and Commack enjoyed a one-point lead at the halftime break. Ward Melville senior Mathew O’Hea had the hot hand in the first half, netting four field goals in the first quarter and nine more in the second.

O’Hea said it’s a hostile environment whenever his team travels to Commack.

“It’s always tough to play here — they’ve got a really great fan base,” O’Hea said. “I thought we played hard — we gave it a great effort — but we just didn’t come out with a win tonight.”

With the game tied at 30-30, Ward Melville senior Tim Specht went to the line shooting two and swished both for the lead at the 6:53 mark of the third.

“Commack’s known for their crowd, and getting in our faces when we make mistakes,” Specht said. “So we knew that was coming, and we fell into that trap at the end.”

Noah Kepes drives the lane. Photo by Bill Landon
Noah Kepes drives the lane. Photo by Bill Landon

It was Specht with the hot hand in the second half though. With his Patriots team up by two points, he went to the charity stripe and nailed both opportunities to help his team edge ahead, 38-34, with 1:55 left to go in the third period.

Commack battled back and retook the lead 40-38 to begin the final quarter, and the Patriots would not see a lead the rest of the way. The game, infested with fouls, sent Ward Melville junior Noah Kepes to the line, where he netted both to retie the game at 40-40, but that’s as close as the team would come.

Commack slowly edged ahead, point by point, and outscored the Patriots 10-3 at the charity stripe in the final minutes to win the game.

O’Hea led all scorers with 19, while Specht was next in line for the Patriots with 13 points.

Ward Melville head coach Alexander Piccirillo said his team played without a let-up for all 32 minutes. “We just couldn’t get some shots to fall and we struggled to get stops down the stretch,” he said. “We hit all of our free throws today, we boxed out, we were able to rebound with them, but we turned it over in key spots and when we needed a big shot, we just couldn’t get it to fall.”

Matthew O’Hea shoots. Photo by Bill Landon
Matthew O’Hea shoots. Photo by Bill Landon

Ward Melville takes on William Floyd at home in a must-win game Friday, Feb. 5, at 6:15 p.m., before facing undefeated powerhouse Brentwood on Monday to wrap up the regular season.

To prepare for Friday’s game against Floyd, Piccirillo said his team will prepare like it would for any other game, adding that his players will have two good practices to be fully prepared for the last home game.

“We’ll just mentally prepare — we’ll watch film because its senior night and we need that win,” Specht said. “We will not leave the gym without that win.”

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Sohpomore guard Nora Gabel drives the baseline in Comsewogue's triple overtime loss to Westhampton on Jan. 30. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

It took three overtime periods to decide the Comsewogue girls’ basketball team’s fate Saturday, when the Warriors fell Westhampton, 59-57, after both teams were deadlocked at 41 points apiece at the end of regulation.

“We all wanted it so bad,” Comsewogue junior Stephanie Collins said of winning the game. “We wanted to come out and have a good last home game. We all just gave it our all. We hit some key shots, but I never thought it would go to three overtimes.”

The Warriors broke out to a 10-2 lead early in the game before the Hurricanes picked up speed, taking a one-point lead into the second quarter. Comsewogue battled back to outscore its opponent 13-7 over the next eight minutes, to take a 25-20 advantage into the halftime break.

Junior forward Samantha Collins reached for the rim. Photo by Bill Landon
Junior forward Samantha Collins reached for the rim. Photo by Bill Landon

Westhampton scored five unanswered points to tie the game at 25-25, but Collins went to the line shooting two and swished both to help her team edge ahead 27-25 with just under four minutes left in the third.

In the final seconds of the period, with the game retied at 32-32, the Hurricanes let a fall-away jumper go at the buzzer, which hit its mark to help the team edge ahead 34-32 to begin the final quarter.

Collins went to the line shooting two, and again netted both to tie the game at 34-34 with just over five minutes left in regulation. Collins was 9-for-10 at the charity stripe, and led her team in scoring, along with sophomore Nora Gabel. The two hit the scoreboard with 20 points apiece.

Both teams traded points while the clock unwound, and Westhampton hit a field goal to bring the game to 41-41 with 40 seconds on the clock.

With 3.9 seconds left, Westhampton inbounded the ball only to have it picked off by Comsewogue’s Sofia Colocho. The Warriors immediately called time out.

With time for one more play, Comsewogue junior guard Megan Turner dribbled to the top of the key, but didn’t have a clear look. Head coach Joe Caltagirone barked from the sideline for his team to shoot the ball. Turner didn’t like the look, but let the ball fly. Her attempt just rimmed out at the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.

“It was a great effort, especially on a Saturday morning coming off a loss to Islip that officially eliminated us from the playoffs, but they came out with everything they had,” Caltagirone said. “Westhampton is very good. They’re stingy on defense, so getting them in foul trouble was big, and to be able to come up with some loose ball rebounds.”

Senior forward and captain Toni Ann Velazquez scores. Photo by Bill Landon
Senior forward and captain Toni Ann Velazquez scores. Photo by Bill Landon

Gabel was busy at the charity stripe netting both in her overtime appearance at the line, to help her team take a 43-41 lead with 2:47 left to play. Westhampton answered back with two points from the line, and with 43 seconds remaining, Gabel swished two more free throws to help her team retake the lead, 45-43. The Hurricanes tried to counter with their appearance at the charity stripe, but split  the attempts, to make it a one-point game.

Again, Gabel went to the line with two attempts, but missed her mark on one, pushing her team ahead 46-44 with 17.3 seconds on the clock.

Desperate to score in the final seconds, Westhampton tried to force a shot and ended up drawing a foul as the clock expired. Westhampton senior Madison Skala matter-of-factly sank both of her shots to retie the game at 46-46, forcing a second overtime period.

Two of Westhampton’s starters fouled out to give Comsewogue an edge, but the Warriors had three players with four fouls.

At the 1:36 mark of the next four minutes, Westhampton edged ahead 50-48 as the clock wound down to 15 seconds. Comsewogue’s final shot from the outside missed, but senior captain and forward Toni Ann Velazquez was right there with the putback to kept the Warriors alive for a final overtime session.

“I think we played a hell of a game,” Velazquez said. “Although we didn’t win, I think it was a great way to end our last home game. That our defense was able to hold them down and not foul as much as they did was very important.”

Gabel opened the third overtime period with another pair of free throws for a 52-50 advantage, but Westhampton answered with a pair of field goals to retake the lead, 54-52. Comsewogue freshman guard Julianna Watson took matters into her own hands as she muscled her way to the rim from the paint for a field goal, but the Hurricanes tacked on a three-point play to pull ahead 57-54 with 27 seconds left in the third overtime period.

Sophomore guard Nora Gabel hits her game-tying trifecta. Photo by Bill Landon
Sophomore guard Nora Gabel hits her game-tying trifecta. Photo by Bill Landon

As the clock wound down to eight seconds, Gabel drained a three-pointer to tie the game, and Westhampton immediately called for a timeout.

“I don’t even know what set that up,” Gabel said. “It’s not a set play, but it was pretty hectic out there, so I dribbled over and found an open shot. We needed three to tie it up, so I went for it, and luckily, it went in.”

In the little time remaining, the Hurricanes inbounded the ball and threw deep to the paint, finding the net as the buzzer blared to win the game 59-57. Comsewogue fell to 3-8 in League V, while Westhampton improved to 7-4.

“We had a couple of miscues early that cost us some opportunities early in the game,” Caltagirone said. “But it was a great game, a clutch shot by Nora for that three, so it was a total team effort.”

Behind scoring leaders Gabel and Collins, Velazquez finished with eight points while Colocho netted five. Watson and Turner rounded out the scoring banking two points each.

Comsewogue will close its season on the road on Feb. 8 against Sayville. Tipoff is at 4 p.m.

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By Bill Landon

Behind Centereach junior Cassidy Treanor’s 13 points, the Cougars held off a third-quarter charge by Newfield to defeat their crosstown rival 37-24 on their own court Tuesday.

Newfield’s Maria Daume races to the basket. Photo by Bill Landon
Newfield’s Maria Daume races to the basket. Photo by Bill Landon

Centereach broke out to an early lead, 12-5, as Treanor led her team in the opening quarter by scoring a pair of field goals and a three-pointer at the buzzer.

The Cougars controlled the tempo of the game early as senior Katrina Gangji dominated the boards with 11 rebounds on the evening.

The Wolverines fought back and managed to close within six points, mainly due to senior Maria Daume’s two field goals and sophomore Emily Diaz’s three-pointer with 4:55 left in the second period, but the team still couldn’t come any closer than that until the third quarter.

Diaz said her team tries to forget what has happened in the past and only focus on fixing their mistakes. “At the half, coach told us we had to mark up better, hustle back and finish on our shots,” she said. “But it’s always fun playing against them because we’re all good friends.”

Centereach sophomore Erin Tuomey also made her presence known down low with an impressive rebounding performance under the boards.

“Our team had good communication,” she said. “Everyone was talking and I think we were getting in their heads.”

Trailing 20-12 opening the second half, Newfield abandoned its zone defense and went man-to-man, which caught Centereach off guard.

“It’s pretty tough,” Newfield senior Muariana Milano said of the crosstown competition. “People talk about it so much, but it’s a rivalry — everybody knows each other. We usually play zone, but coach told us to get up in their face and we’re not used to playing like that.”

The Wolverines’ swarming defense turned the tables as Centereach struggled for open looks, forcing them to shoot from outside.

Centereach’s Cassidy Treanor drives the baseline. Photo by Bill Landon
Centereach’s Cassidy Treanor drives the baseline. Photo by Bill Landon

“We cut it to four points near the end of the third quarter, but then I think we lost a little energy,” Newfield head coach Jamie Santiago said. “We were dead tired going man-to-man the whole time to try to get back in the game.”

Newfield clawed back from another deficit to trail 29-22 to open the final quarter, but didn’t come any closer the rest of the way.

“Our team tends to play to the other team’s speed, and when that happens, the coach always tells us to slow down,” Treanor said. “Coach told us at the half that we play our best when we play our game, and that’s when you get the win.”

Centereach made an adjustment in the final eight minutes of play, and was able to hold Newfield to just two pints as a result, while Gangji, Treanor and senior Erica Medina combined for eight points to put the game away.

“Defensively, we played very, very well in the first half,” Santiago said. “If we could have made a couple of easy layups and a few free throws, the score would’ve been a little closer.”

Centereach head coach James Steigele said the crosstown rivalry is important.

“It’s always an important game, because both teams come out to play and they play hard,” the coach said. “It’s always a nail-biter.”

With the win, Centereach improves to 6-4 in League III, while Newfield falls to 2-8. With four games remaining in regular-season play, the Cougars are back in action Friday night when they hit the road to take on Huntington at 6:15 p.m. The Wolverines host West Islip on Thursday, Jan. 28, with a 5:45 p.m. tipoff scheduled.

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Mount Sinai senior Leon Paul improved his record to 24-2 with a 7-0 decision over his Sayville competitor on Jan. 22. The Mustangs outscored the Golden Flashes 62-15 in the final meet of the regular season, to improve to 6-1 in League VI. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Mount Sinai senior Matt Eisenblaetter tries to escape a hold on his way to pinning his Sayville opponent at 170 pounds on Jan. 22. The Mustangs improved to 6-1 in League VI to end the season in a three-way tie for first place with their 62-15 win over the Golden Flashes. Photo by Bill Landon
Mount Sinai senior Matt Eisenblaetter tries to escape a hold on his way to pinning his Sayville opponent at 170 pounds on Jan. 22. Photo by Bill Landon

The Mount Sinai wrestling team is locked in a three-way tie at the top of League VI after taking down Sayville 62-15 on the road on Jan. 22. As the curtain drew to a close in the final meet of the regular season, Miller Place and Elwood-John Glenn also won their final games, knotting all three teams at 6-1 going into Wednesday’s opening round of playoffs.

Mount Sinai came out fast winning four of the first five matches with standout pinning performances from five grapplers, including senior Matthew Eisenblaetter, who laid out his opponent at the 3:39 mark at 170 pounds, and sophomore Jake Croston, who put an end to his match in the first period at 220. There were also two major decisions, highlighted by eighth-grader Mike O’Brien won his matchup 11-2 at 106 pounds.

Mount Sinai head coach Matt Armstrong said his team has been able to hold its own despite having three eighth-graders and 11 ninth-graders on the roster.

“The younger kids wrestle in a lot of tournaments and I have an eighth-grader Matt Campo who’s an absolute hammer,” he said.

Mount Sinai eighth-grader Matt Campo, who is controlling his opponent, improved his record to 24-1 after pinning his Sayville competitor at 99 pounds on Jan. 22. The Mustangs improved to 6-1 in League VI to end the season in a three-way tie for first place with their 62-15 win over the Golden Flashes. Photo by Bill Landon
Mount Sinai eighth-grader Matt Campo, who is controlling his opponent, improved his record to 24-1 after pinning his Sayville competitor at 99 pounds on Jan. 22. Photo by Bill Landon

At 99 pounds, Campo dropped that hammer on his opponent with a pin early in the second period. Campo was an All-League wrestler last year as a seventh-grader, and with his win, the underclassmen, whom his coach said is the future of Mount Sinai wrestling, improved his record to 24-1.

Co-captain Shane Walker, a senior at 195 pounds, also ended his match by pinning his rival a minute into the second period for his 14th pin of the season, improving his record to 19-1. Classmate Keith Williams pinned his opponent at the 1:37 mark in the 120-pound weight class.

Two-time All-League player and senior co-captain Daniel Henry defeated his foe in a major decision, 11-3, and at 160 pounds, fellow senior Leon Paul took victory with a 7-0 decision in the 145-pound weight class. Mike Zarif, a sophomore, edged his challenger 5-2 at 126 pounds.

Mount Sinai senior Daniel Henry lifts up his 160-pound competitor during his 11-3 major decision on Jan. 22. The Mustangs topped Sayville 62-15 to end the season in a three-way tie for first in League VI. Photo by Bill Landon
Mount Sinai senior Daniel Henry lifts up his 160-pound competitor during his 11-3 major decision on Jan. 22. Photo by Bill Landon

Paul, a two-time All-League wrestler who is now 24-2, said he was somewhat surprised in his matchup, because he expected more from his opponent.

“I was successful in my takedown,” said Paul, adding that he was happy with his overall performance.

Winning by forfeit was Leonel Paul, Leon’s twin brother, at 138 pounds, as did sophomore Robert Christ at 285.

“Sayville did well — they did better than I expected,” Leonel Paul said. “Our team did well, and our heads were in it tonight.”

Armstrong said that the Paul brothers are the hardest workers in the wrestling room, and have won three tournaments this year between them. Leonel Paul added that he’ll go running every day leading up to the start of the playoffs.

Mount Sinai eighth-grader Mike O'Brien maintains control of his opponent on his way to an 11-2 major decision at 106 pounds, against Sayville on Jan. 22. The Mustangs improved to 6-1 in League VI to end the season in a three-way tie for first place with their 62-15 win over the Golden Flashes. Photo by Bill Landon
Mount Sinai eighth-grader Mike O’Brien maintains control of his opponent on his way to an 11-2 major decision at 106 pounds, against Sayville on Jan. 22. Photo by Bill Landon

Also winning by forfeit was Luke Marino, a senior at 182pounds, who talked about what his team will do to prepare for Wednesday’s postseason opener.

“Were just going to be practicing like we’ve done all year” Marino said. “This is a hard working team and I think this is the year that we can do it. We showed that by placing in the top three, which hasn’t been done in 10 years at Mount Sinai.”

Comsewogue's Tyler Timpanero leaps up to the rim and scores. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Harborfields’ boys’ basketball team remains undefeated as the Tornadoes took down Comsewogue in a blowout victory, 69-35, in League V basketball action Tuesday night. The Warriors struggled to keep pace, and despite a third quarter rally, Harborfields was too much to handle.

“We caught them a little flat when we came out, but Comsewogue opened the second half and played like we’re used to seeing,” Harborfields head coach John Tampori said. “My guys, they come to play every day and tonight we shot the ball really well.”

Harborfields' Robert Pecorelli battles Comsewogue’s David Heller on the glass. Photo by Bill Landon
Harborfields’ Robert Pecorelli battles Comsewogue’s David Heller on the glass. Photo by Bill Landon

Harborfields led by 10 after three minutes of play, with the Tornadoes finding its three-point rhythm. Harborfields senior guard Robert Pecorelli led the way with four three-pointers, followed by senior guard Malcolm Wynter, who drained three, all in the first quarter, to help the Tornadoes gain momentum and break out to a 34-9 advantage after eight minutes of play.

“We didn’t expect to win by this much,” Wynter said. “We’re in a tough league, but when we play our best we can score and we can stop a lot of teams.”

The Tornadoes’ defensive pressure was relentless from the opening tipoff, and the Warriors struggled to clear the ball. Harborfields junior forward Alex Merhige owned the boards as he led his team with 14 rebounds, highlighted by a two-hand jam on a putback.

From there, the Warriors dug their hole deeper, managing just five more points to the Tornadoes’ 15, for a 49-14 halftime score.

The Warriors opened the second half unlike the first, as their defense came to life, grabbing rebounds while mixing in several fast breaks. Comsewogue senior forward Dylan Cervini led the way, nailing a pair of three-pointers and a free throw for seven points, as teammate David Heller, a sophomore forward and center, banked four. Comsewogue outscored its opponent 16-7 in the third, to begin the final quarter down 56-30.

“We had to keep our intensity up in the second half,” Wynter said. “We obviously slacked off there in the third quarter, but we stayed together, we pushed hard.”

Merhige said his team had to adjust to Comsewogue’s defensive pressure in the third quarter, which proved to be difficult at first.

“They opened the second half guarding us down low, and they boxed out really well and they started grabbing rebounds,” he said. “They came out in the second half and started knocking down threes.”

Harborfields' Alex Merhige scores two points. Photo by Bill Landon
Harborfields’ Alex Merhige scores two points. Photo by Bill Landon

Comsewogue’s rally would be short lived, as the Tornadoes turned up the heat, denying the Warriors a field goal the rest of the way. Comsewogue earned its final five points at the free-throw line.

“We needed better communication on defense and we cleaned that up in the third quarter,” Comsewogue senior guard Travis Williams said. “But we always know what we’re getting from Harborfields. They’re very well coached, so respect to them.”

Joey Carillo, a Comsewogue junior guard, agreed with Williams that Harborfields is a tough competitor and more than his team could handle.

“Coach told us at the half that we needed to work harder, move the ball and trust each other,” Carillo said. “They’re a tough team — if we played like we did in the third quarter, we would’ve had a better game.”

Cervini lead the Warriors with 13 points, followed by Heller with six.

Pecorelli topped the leaderboard with 18 points, Merhige netted 15 and Wynter added 14.

With the win, Harborfields improves to 8-0 in league play, while Comsewogue dropped to 3-5 with four games remaining on its schedule.

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