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Bill Landon

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By Bill Landon

All you could hear Tuesday in Mount Sinai was the sounds of bats cracking.

The baseball team continued to rally inning after inning en route to a 13-0 win over Amityville March 27. The Mustangs blanked Amityville 14-0 the day prior.

Leading the way for Mount Sinai was designated hitter Jared Donnelly, going 3-for-3 with a double, two runs and four RBIs. Even though his team possesses a potent combination of strength from every angle of the field, he thinks there’s more work to be done at the plate.

“We’re going to have to be more consistent at the plate — we swung at some bad pitches,” he said. “Everyone’s a little out in front. We need to stay focused, under control and try to drive the ball the other way, but our bats have come alive.”

First to get Mount Sinai on the board was right fielder Ethan Angress, who went 1-for-2 with three RBIs. He led the Mustangs in their first game with four runs scored and five RBIs after going 3-for-4.

He set the tone March 27 when he drilled his first ball to right center to drive in a pair of runs in the top of the first. Donnelly was hit by a pitch that plated catcher Nick Cergol in the second, and after an Amityville conference on the mound Angress sent one outfield that drove home center fielder Paul Gomes for a 4-0 lead.

“I’ve been liking the defense and our pitching,” Angress said, but noted there will be more challenging opponents ahead. “Shoreham-Wading River and Bayport-Blue Point will be a challenge, but our next test is going to be Miller Place in three weeks, and we’ll need to be ready.”

Amityville was fortunate that more damage wasn’t done as the Mustangs stranded three at the end of the second. The Warriors once again struggled to get the ball in play top of the third as pitcher Ryan Shanian retired the side in order.

Mount Sinai coach Eric Reichenbach said it meant nothing to outscore his opponent 27-0 in the first two games of the early season.

“We’ve got to learn to get ahead in the count, pound the zone offensively — we’ve got to have better pitch selection [because] we’re not facing the better part of our schedule right now,” the head coach said. “If we have an offensive display like we did yesterday and today, we’re going to struggle down the road, so we need to stand back on the baseball and hit the ball the other way.”

Mount Sinai hosted East Hampton March 28, but results were not available by press time. The Mustangs play host to Amityville one last time April 6 at 10 a.m. before returning to face East Hampton on the road April 9 at 4:30 p.m.

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Senior first baseman Joe Mancini swings away during an indoor practice. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Comsewogue baseball boasts fresh arms at the mound and will lean on its first baseman and shortstop to keep the Warriors contesting this season, but head coach Joe Caltagirone is liking the commitment he’s seeing across the board.

Senior outfielder Nick Falcon drills the ball during practice. Photo by Bill Landon

“They want to get better,” he said, noting Comsewogue’s 5-13 2017 record. “These kids know they’ve got work to do, but they’re committed to it. They work hard even though we’re in the gym most of the time with this weather. It’s their work ethic.”

First baseman Joe Mancini has emerged as the senior to look to.

“He keeps the other guys in check,” Caltagirone said. “[He has] very good leadership qualities.”

He batted over .300 last season, and according to Caltagirone is one of the hardest workers on the team, demanding a lot from himself and expecting the same from his teammates.

“We’re more a team this year,” the Springfield College-bound senior said. “Last year was tough — we lost a lot of games later in the season. We’ll have to be better at our situational hitting and our pitching in certain circumstances, but our fielding is really solid this year.”

The head coach agreed, noting his younger student-athletes’ strengths lie in hitting and fielding.

Pitching proves to have the shallowest depth for the Warriors, who graduated four of five starting pitchers, with the fifth sitting out this season with an elbow injury.

Junior shortstop Nick Lopez practices his left-handed swing. Photo by Bill Landon

“We have eight seniors on the roster,” Caltagirone said. “But they didn’t get a lot of innings last year.”

Junior shortstop Nick Lopez, whose coach said boasted a solid glove as a sophomore, impressing him early with a compact left-handed swing, also said the situational hitting needs to improve.

“Last season we left a lot of runners on base,” he said. “We could’ve gotten the lead early, but couldn’t get the runners in and two or three of those games were close.”

Even with the majority of practices being indoors, Caltagirone said he expects his team to be competitive, even after a loss in the first game of the season to Half Hollow Hills West, 18-5 March 26. The head coach said games against Hills West and Eastport-South Manor will be the most challenging for the Warriors this year.

Comsewogue moved up to League V this season. The Warriors’ March 27 game on the road at Deer Park was postponed to April 6. Comsewogue plays host to Eastport-South Manor April 2 at 10 a.m.

Freshman midfield Jack Krisch. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

With a new head coach comes a new goal for the Huntington boys lacrosse team: take two more wins.

Senior attack Colby Martin. Photo by Bill Landon

Last year, the Blue Devils finished with a 6-10 record, with three of those losses coming from one-goal games. The last time Huntington made the postseason was 2013, losing to Miller Place by a single score in the first round. If the team can win just two more games than last season, the Blue Devils will end the five-year playoff drought.

“We need more structure — more discipline by implementing a system that guys buy into and that works, that makes the guys like lacrosse,” head coach Julian Watts said. “We’re changing the culture, not the tradition, but changing the way we prepare them for games, making sure they’re confident, putting them in the right spots, and hopefully, they can execute.”

Leading the charge will be senior goalkeeper Sam Bergman, a three-year starter who began every game between the pipes last year.

“There so much more room for growth,” the coach said. “And we’ll continue to grow — there’s no limit to how good we can get. We’ve got to continue to push each other, maintaining that chemistry on and off the field. It’ll come down to us playing to the very last minute of [every] game.”

According to Watts, who played at St. Anthony’s before competing for Hofstra University, this season is about more than athleticism and stick skills.

Junior midfielder Jordan McCoy. Photo by Bill Landon

“[I want a system that] makes them want to come to practice,” he said. “But along with structure and discipline, there are consequences. We have great coaches instilling a good work ethic along with hard work and paying attention to details. [If they] don’t cut corners that will bring success both on the field and off it — it’s all of the little things that count.”

He said he sees the younger athletes pushing the older ones to show them what they’re made of, and the elders setting the standard for how practice should go. They’re all bringing the energy, according to Watts, including senior defensive midfielder Mike Abbondandelo and sophomore Jack Stewart, who will lead the team with Bergman.

“We lost three games last year by one goal, and in each it came down to miscommunication on the field,” Stewart said. “But this year, we’ve got great team chemistry and a much better vibe. We’re all on the same page.”

Senior midfielder Mikey Abbondandelo. Photo by Bill Landon

Even though there’s more of a mental focus, Watts said the riding and clearing need to become second nature for his team so that it’s poised under pressure and in control, as to not make wild or out-of-bounds throw.

“We just want them to make the high-percentage passes,” said the coach. “If we can do that efficiently and consistently, that’s a recipe for success.”

Senior defender Anthony McDonald said his team’s roster is deeper this year than it has been in the past, and with a high number of returning players he said he’s excited to see where the Blue Devils can take themselves this season.

“I think we have a lot more experience on the field this year,” McDonald said. “Practice has been good, and we’re only getting better. We’re working hard, we’re pushing each other, and I see a lot of camaraderie and chemistry out there.”

Huntington will scrimmage once more before opening the season with a nonleague game at Kings Park  March 24. The first faceoff is scheduled for noon.

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By Bill Landon

Port Jefferson’s first-year girls lacrosse coach Kelly Walsh will be relying on her team’s defense to help the Royals improve on its win total in its second ever varsity season.

Last year, the Royals notched two wins, and ultimately fell short of a third with a 14-13 loss at the hands of Copiague. Although Port Jefferson hasn’t had a chance to have many outdoor practices yet this year, the head coach is liking what she’s seeing.

“I think we’re coming together pretty well,” said Walsh, who played for Commack and St. Joseph’s University. “I think we’re going to be strong defensively. The girls just bond really well, so I think now that some of them have put their foot in the water to get experience playing, even though we’re so young, they’re starting to get that connection with the older players.”

Brooke Zamek said she believes there’s more work to be done to be in a position to win games.

“We definitely have to work on some skills, because we’re not at the top of our abilities yet,” the freshman defender and midfielder said. “But we all know each other — we’ve known each other for a long time — and that helps us.”

Without any seniors on the squad, this year’s team is a mix of very new varsity players with a handful of juniors, but Walsh said her team will use that to its advantage.

“You wouldn’t know [the difference] between the eighth-graders and eleventh-grade player because they treat each other like sisters,” the coach said. “Youth doesn’t make that much of a difference, maybe in size, but you can see where the older girls just take in the younger players.”

Freshman Katelynn Johnston echoed the assessment of her coach and teamates about how her Royals will look this year.

“We communicate well, we work well together, we need to get better at our stick skills,” she said. “We’re young, but I think we’ll do fairly well this year.”

Midfielder Phalina Sciara took her critiques a step further, analyzing different particular aspects of Port Jefferson’s play.

“We’ve got to hone our passing and clean up our stick skills, but we shouldn’t be underestimated just because we’re a young team,” the junior said. “We have great coaches this year, so that definitely helps, and they know how to motivate us and I think we’ll do well this year.”

Walsh said the season will be a challenge with a small roster, but hopes her limited amount of substitutes can still make their own contributions.

“We’re going to have to lean on our subs,” Walsh said. “But they’re always talking about who wants it more amongst themselves, and that builds character.”

Port Jefferson will be tested when it opens the season at home March 28 hosting Deer Park at 4 p.m.

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Miller Place sophomore Lauren Mancini carries the ball downfield with a Mount Sinai defender on her back during a scrimmage. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Miller Place boasts a mix of youth and experience in its girls lacrosse team this season, including nine eighth-graders, many   of which were on the Panthers playoff team last year.

Miller Place sophomore Madison Murphy gains possession off the draw. Photo by Bill Landon

The team finished its 2017 campaign with a 7-6 record, making the playoffs but falling to rival Shoreham-Wading River in the opening round. The girls scrimmaged Syosset before going toe-to-toe March 17 with New York State champion Mount Sinai, scoring several goals against their formidable neighbors.

Being a young team, boasting just four seniors with sophomores, freshmen and the nine eighth-graders making up the rest of the roster, Miller Place head coach Thomas Carro is under no illusion as to what’s in store for his squad this season.

“We’re going to have some growing pains in the beginning,” he said. “They’re going to make mistakes. We turned the ball over like 11 times in that last scrimmage [against Syosset], so we’ve got to limit those — and we will.”

Carro said five-year senior goalkeeper Hailey Duchnowski, along with returning defenders, should keep the Panthers in games.

“I think we have one of the best goalies we’ve ever had,” Carro said of Duchnowski, also pointing to junior defender Ava Burns and sophomore midfielder Madison Murphy, who he said is “going to have a good year.” “If those girls play hard, that stuff becomes contagious and the younger group will follow them.”

Miller Place freshman Alexa Corbin moves the ball through midfield in a scrimmage against Mount Sinai. Photo by Bill Landon

Duchnowski pointed to areas of promise and areas of concern she has with her unit up to this point in practice.

“We are doing really well at moving the ball fast on offense, coming together on defense, working hard,” she said. “But we’ll have to get better in transition.”

Murphy’s assessment of her team’s progress so far she said belies its age, but also noticed moments of weakness.

“We have a bunch of athletes,” she said. “We need to play together as a team, and if we do that it’ll all come together. We’ll need a lot of communication on the defensive end as well as on offense, and if we can do that fluently we can win.”

Senior Nicole Beck will also provide the Panthers with the leadership they need, and said, like her coach always does, Miller Place doesn’t rebuild, it reloads.

Miller Place junior Ava Burns battles for a ground ball against Mount Sinai. Photo by Bill Landon

“We lost a great amount of talent last year, but so far we’re still able to put up the numbers offensively,” Beck said. “It’s been impressive — we didn’t think we’d be able to do that — we have a lot of young girls who are playing really well.”

Murphy said her team’s preparation for the league opener at home against last year’s nemesis won’t have anything to do with the athleticism of the team, but with the mental preparedness. Miller Place will host Shoreham-Wading River March 28 at 4 p.m.

“If we go into that game with a positive mindset, work as hard as we can, I think there could be a positive outcome,” she said.

Carro said his team competes with some of the sport’s top Long Island talents, and said finding a way to neutralize high-caliber opponent’s threats will be key to competing with the cream of the crop.

“Shoreham lost a lot [of talent] last year, but it’ll be a test for us to play a team that’s next door to us; the girls all know each other,” the coach said. “We have Rocky Point and Mount Sinai [as neighbors and opponents this year], and those are tough teams. These girls come out and play hard against those teams, and if we take care of the ball and make good decisions, we can be in the game with anybody.”

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Members of state championship-winning field hockey team look to bring another title home this spring

Samantha Tarpey goalie, Ward Melville's junior goalkeeper, reaches to make a save during practice. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Three Ward Melville multi-sport athletes are hoping to not only share knowledge of success through teaching, but through osmosis.

Lexi Reinhardt, Kate Mulham and Kerri Thornton, all veterans of the Patriots field hockey team, have tasted success at the highest level. After bringing home the school’s first state title since 2008, they returning starters are hoping to do it again, but this time, with the girls lacrosse team.

Ward Melville senior Shannon Brazier make a pass during practice. Photo by Bill Landon

“Our core players are high energy, they’re high speed, high power, just go-go-go,” head coach Kerri Kilkenny said. “After those girls won the field hockey state title they were all texting me, ‘we’re doing it again in the spring.’”

Ward Melville ended its 2017 campaign 17-1. The Patriots powered through the regular season, going 16-0 in Division I before topping West Islip in the Class A quarterfinals. Going 17-1 would seem to be an accomplishment for any team, but for Patriots, the single-score loss to Northport in semifinals stung, and the pain still lingers. Ranked No. 1 in Division I heading into this season, Ward Melville has its sights set on a new objective.

“Our focus is working hard and getting better every day,” Kilkenny said. “This year I’m more concerned about making sure that we are taking care of ourselves — that we are becoming better, that we are improving and that we’re working hard every single day.”

The Patriots lost 13 seniors to graduation, spread evenly across the field — four attackers, four midfielders, four defenders and a goalkeeper. Kilkenny said with the girls playing on club teams over the summer, she’s not worried about filling in the gaps. Senior Shannon Coughlan will anchor the defense, the duo of Shannon Brazier and Shannon Berry will lead the midfield and Jill Becker will guide the attack.

Ward Melville senior Nicole Liucci moves the ball downfield during practice. Photo by Bill Landon

Brazier said the bitter taste left in every girl’s mouth after the loss will be used as motivation.

“We’re all trying as hard as we can because a lot of us are seniors,” she said. “This is our last year, so we’re giving it our all. Even though we only had one loss last year, it ended our season. We weren’t happy about that, so we’re using that to fuel our season this year.”

Coughlan, who agreed with Brazier, said she is also looking to get her team up to speed.

“We have new personnel on defense, so we’re going to have to work on communication with each other to get to where we’re comfortable,” Coughlan said.

Ward Melville will scrimmage top Division III teams in Mount Sinai, Shoreham-Wading River, Eastport-South Manor and Bayport-Blue Point before the season opener against visiting Riverhead March 27 at 4:30 p.m.

“My senior class is a great, dynamic group — they’ve been with us a few years now and they all have tremendous potential,” Kilkenny said. “All of the girls are like sponges; they want to learn, they listen, they’re coachable. They really are a wonderful group of kids.”

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Cameron McNicol fires at the cage during practice. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

One week into practice, head coach Pete Mitchell is liking what he’s seeing from his Warriors, showing the depth he hopes can carry Comseowgue into the postseason.

Seniors Richia Lacalandra on offense and Zach Gagnon on defense have filled the shoes left by Will Snelders and Ryan Dorney, and junior Thomas Heller will remain between the pipes this year.

Tom Heller makes a save during practice. Photo by Bill Landon

“This year, there’s a lot of competition,” Mitchell said, noting that he puts a lot of faith in his mostly-returning offensive unit and new faceoff taker Cameron MacNicol.

“He’s very good,” Mitchell said of MacNicol. “[We have] a good mix. We’ll be a lot deeper — we have a lot more kids — and I think that was one of our faults last year.”

Even as snow puts practice indoors, Lacalandra said the team is working hard.

“Coach is getting us there — we’re running every day, we’re getting bigger, stronger, faster; that’s key,” the Stony Brook University-bound four-year varsity player said. “As that happens, the play will come. The team has chemistry, and [I believe] we’ll get it done this year.”

Last year, Mitchell said few people expected the Warriors to make the postseason with a 7-9 record, let alone battle Eastport-South Manor in the Suffolk County Class B semifinal round. He thinks with his stronger defensive unit, especially with the blocking skills of his midfielders, the Warriors’ chances are that much higher.

“I have probably two of the best defensive middies that I’ve ever had in Reno Molina and John Felice, who is actually my backup goalie — he’s one of the fastest human beings I’ve ever seen,” said the coach adding junior Sean Kennedy will be another to watch.

Chris Spahr clears the ball during practice. Photo by Bill Landon

Gagnon said it’s been tough to be stuck in the gym, but said the team is focused on facing Kings Park in the first game of the season March 27.

“[We’ve] got a lot of young kids, a lot of talented kids who push each other hard,” he said. “We just have to stay after it, keep our eyes on the prize. We need to be smooth, clean things up a little bit [because] some things are still a little sloppy, we have to start talking more, but besides that I think we look good.”

Heller, a University at Albany-commit, said his team will never settle with where it’s at until hoisting up a championship trophy.

“Everyone’s hustling — we’ve got a solid offense, we’re moving the ball well on defense and [creating those passing lanes],” he said, adding he sees Half Hollow Hills West being stiff competition, but likes Comsewogue’s chances. “I think we’ll beat them.”

Mitchell said he’s pleased with the dedication he’s seen so far, and seeing his team not take any practice lightly will provide good results out on the field.

“Everybody’s on their ‘A’ game,” Mitchell said. “We’ll be prepared [for that first game]. These kids know what Comsewogue lacrosse means to the school and to this community. When you play Comsewogue you know you’re going to play a lacrosse game.”

Ward Melville's relay team comes in first place in 200 medley

Shoreham-Wading River's Jason Louser pushes his way through the 100-yard breaststroke. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Junior Jason Louser has a reason to love his home pool a little more these days. The Shoreham-Wading River swimmer took home two first-place finishes in the state championships at Nassau County Aquatic Center in East Meadow March 3. Louser was one of three two-time individual state champions, earning co-most outstanding swimmer award honors and All-American nods in the 100-yard breaststroke and 200 individual medley.

Shoreham-Wading River’s Jason Louser (black trunks) start the 200-yard individual medley just ahead of Ward Melville’s David He (in front on left). Photo by Bill Landon

“He has so much potential, and what we’ve seen today is just the tip of the iceberg,” Louser’s coach Kate Canard said. “He’s very humble and he’s very kind, so that speaks volumes. When he wins, he’s a nice person.”

Louser touched the wall in the 100 breaststroke in 55.07 seconds, just ahead of Hauppauge’s Casey Jackson, who finished in 55.19. Ward Melville’s David He, Louser’s to challenger throughout the weekend, came in third in 56.59.

Trailing the majority of the 200 individual medley, Louser made a strong push in the final 25 yard to stop the clock in a personal best 1:48.20 to finish just shy of breaking Just Plaschka of Hauppauge’s 2014 record (1:47.83). Ward Melville’s David He was second in 1:51.13.

“I wasn’t expecting to set a state record, but I knew that to win that event I had to go out faster, because [Ward Melvill’e David] He is a better backstroker than I am,” Louser said. “I’m a breaststroker, and that definitely helps, but I could feel [He] on my feet.”

Ward Melville’s Luka Zuric competes in the 100-yard butterfly. Photo by Bill Landon

He redeemed his second and third-place finishes by racing in the first-place 200 medley relay with Ryan Kaplan, Luka Zuric and Cameron Kubik. The quartet tripped the timer at 1:33.79. Their performance just missed the state record by 37 hundredths of a second set last year by St. Anthony’s.

“It wasn’t a great split,” said He, who raced the second leg, or breaststroke. “I wasn’t really thinking, because there was such an adrenaline rush running through me. So I kept on moving my hands trying to get to the wall as soon as possible.”

Zuric, who swam the third leg, got a little off pace after forgetting to breathe on his first lap. Kubik, the team’s anchor, made up for lost time to finish just ahead of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (1:34.03), even though he too forgot to breathe.

“I was a little off my split [time] from yesterday, but I still felt,” Kubik said. “I had to catch up from third, and I didn’t take a single breath becuase I was so excited.”

Ward Melville head coach Chris Gordon said he was confident in his relay team, knowing its second-half abilities. He was happy to see his seniors pull out a win in their final meet.

Ward Melville’s Ryan Kaplan races in his leg of the 200-yard medley relay. Photo by Bill Landon

“I knew a couple of the other schools had a stronger backstroker and breaststroker combination, Hauppauge in particular, but I knew our second half was really, really strong,” Gordon said. “Luca and Cameron swam unbelievable. I was happy because we were ahead of our pace yesterday. I had so much faith in these guys.”

Zuric finished third in the 100 butterfly (50.26) and Comsewogue sophomore Jake Vecchio ended the race in fifth (51.15). Hauppauge’s Trenton Burr made it to third in the 100 backstroke (50.49) and Zuric placed sixth (51.55). The Northport 300 freestyle reay team of Zachary Papsco, Nicholas Millkey, Ethan Greenfield and Dylan Karpf claimed sixth place in 1:27.33. These points helped Section XI finish the meet with 764.5 overall points, well ahead of second-place Section VIII, which had 572.5

Louser has his sights set a little higher for his senior sesaon, especially in individual medley, being he was so close to breaking the state record.

“I have another year to go for that,” he said, laughing.

The junior is one of three Top 5 returnees in his two events combined. His head coach is looking forward to seeing what her swimmer can do next.

“He’s so dedicated to the sport, and so are his parents — he comes here to East Meadow every day for practice,” Canard said. “I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people.”

Shoreham-Wading River’s Jason Louser stands atop the 200-yard individual medley podium. Photo by Bill Landon
Ward Melville’s Ryan Kaplan, David He, Luka Zuric and Cameron Kubic stand at the top of the podium as the 200-yard medley relay champions. Photo by Bill Landon

Black Team wins Battle of the Educators for third straight year

By Bill Landon

Third time was also a charm for Mount Sinai Middle School’s faculty.

Brandon Loomis, a 6-7 physical education teacher and four-year starter in Mount Sinai School District’s faculty game, ignited the crowd with dunk after dunk to help lead his Black Team to a 73-72 win over Mount Sinai High School staff March. 2.

“[I do it for] all of these kids here that cheer us on,” Loomis said. “We hype it up in the elementary school — they get so excited.”

There was time for one last play after the Gray Team scored on a free-throw to break a 71-71 tie, and the middle school team made it count. Elementary school principal Rob Catlin brought the ball down the court and passed to fifth-grade teacher Melissa Drewisis at the baseline, who found nothing but net as the buzzer sounded to win the game, and with it, bragging rights for another year.

High school team captain and floor general Matt Dyroff said the nor’easter howling outside made him think about postponing the Battle of the Educators, and was glad he didn’t.

“We contemplated whether to call it off, but we said, ‘Let’s go with it,’” Dyroff said. “We crossed our fingers, and it worked out well — it’s a great crowd. The excitement that it brings to the kids … it’s always all about the kids.”

The game is organized and sponsored by Mount Sinai Booster Club, and funds raised from ticket sales, concessions and the halftime shooting contest go toward six $1,000 athletic scholarships awarded in June. Booster club President Diane Tabile said if money is needed to fund other projects or events throughout the district, the club is more than happy to share the wealth. Tabile said she loves how the faculty game is different from anything else her club partakes in throughout the year.

“The kids come out and watch their favorite teacher, especially the younger kids, they idolize these teachers,” Tabile said. “I appreciate the faculty coming out giving up their own time so the kids can come and watch, it’s just a great night. If there’s a program maybe they’re lacking funds for, or if a student may need a little help financially, we’re always willing to help out and we’re lucky that we can.”

Tabile’s daughter Alexa, a senior varsity cheerleader who worked the souvenir and snack stand, said the event gave herself and her classmates a unique perspective of their teachers.

“It’s fun to see the teachers,” she said. “You always see them on such a composed level, but to see them differently — letting their hair down — is fun.”

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Annual game brings the fun while raising funds for DECA club

By Bill Landon

The Harlem Wizards’ Rocket Unit took off Thursday night.

The famed basketball team brought its tricks, hoops and alley oops to Smithtown West to dazzle a 600-plus crowd while raising money for the Distributive Education Clubs of America club.

“They put on a great show,” said DECA club advisor Cindy Wood, a business teacher at West. “The kids and the parents are great and we get everyone from all different schools right here in our district. We usually don’t get that, so it’s a really nice way to bring everyone together.”

Wood was one of many educators to excel out on the court as the Bulls battled against Rocket, Big J, The Artist, Jet and La Fiesta March 1. Tom Vulin, who usually fights from the sidelines as head coach of Smithtown East’s girls basketball team, showed his 3-point prowess to earn him a “shooter” shout out from play-by-play announcer D.J. Swiv every time the ball touched his hands.

Hauppauge resident Jaime Glas brought her whole family to the game expecting to enjoy it from the bleachers, but the Wizards had other ideas. Big J plucked the Comsewogue school district teacher from the crowd to meet him on the dance floor, and after immediate terror, turned lemons into lemonade as she showed him her moves.

“I was mortified,” said Glas, laughing. “As a teacher, that’s what we do every day — we just kind of roll with it.”

Behind Vulin and Wood was Accompsett Elementary School teacher Ed Vinas, who was brought out on the court for a different reason after receiving an email from event organizer Denise Massimo.

“When my daughter found out about it, she talked me into coming out tonight, so it’s become a family affair,” Vinas said. “I’ve seen them a couple of times and they put on a good show.”

Massimo, also a DECA advisor and business teacher, said putting on a spectacle of that magnitude requires tons of help. She and Wood, advisors of the business and marketing club, begin planning a year in advance. The kids running the booths, the ticket sales and concession stands are all officers of the club.

“It’s great to see everyone come together and everything culminate into what’s seen here,” Massimo said. “It was a great turnout.”

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