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Boys Basketball

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.”

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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.

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Sean O’Shea moves the basketball around the paint. Photo by Joe Galotti

By Joe Galotti

After suffering its first loss of the season on Saturday, the Northport boys’ basketball team wasted little time in getting back to its winning ways. On Tuesday night, the Tigers jumped out to an early 17-2 lead on visiting Lindenhurst, and never looked back, as they came away with a 55-41 victory.

The win improved the Tigers’ record to 15-1 on the year, and clinched a League II regular season championship for the program. While Northport’s players realize they have plenty of work ahead of them still this winter, the achievement was certainly not lost on the club.

Lukas Jarrett holds possession while looking to make a pass. Photo by Joe Galotti
Lukas Jarrett holds possession while looking to make a pass. Photo by Joe Galotti

“This is a really great accomplishment for us, because we play in probably the best league on Long Island,” Northport senior guard Brennan Whelan said.

Northport senior guard Sean O’Shea echoed his teammate’s sentiment.

“This is huge for us,” O’Shea said. “It’s great knowing that we’ll have a banner up on the wall, and that it will hang there forever.”

O’Shea finished with a game-high 15 points in his team’s win over the Bulldogs, while Whelan dished out 10 assists. The club also got nine points apiece from junior guard Kevin Cryer-Hassett and senior guard Rory Schynder.

In total, 11 different players scored for the Tigers in the contest. Ball movement has been a key for Northport all season long, and on Tuesday the team’s passing and court vision was once again on point.

“We’re an unselfish team by nature, and we also work a lot on passing,” Northport’s head coach Andrew D’Eloia said. “Our guys really do understand that if they move the ball, they get an open shot, and they enjoy playing that way.”

Northport’s veteran group seems to have fully bought into this philosophy.

“We’ve all been playing with each other for a couple of years now, and we always look to make the extra pass, because that’s what makes our offense work so well,” Whelan said.

The Tigers also put together a strong night on their own end of the court, giving up just four points in the opening quarter and 12 points in the first half. This allowed Northport to take a commanding 22-point advantage into halftime, and give rest to its starters down the stretch.

Ryan Magnuson makes a play. Photo by Joe Galotti
Ryan Magnuson makes a play. Photo by Joe Galotti

Senior forward Lukas Jarrett was a major catalyst on the defensive end, registering five blocks on the night.

“Our defense started everything tonight,” D’Eloia said. “We just really committed to helping each other, and trying to stay in front of them. We made them take tough shots, and that helped generate our offense early on.”

Lindenhurst outscored the Tigers 29-21 in the game’s final 16 minutes, but was never able to draw within single-digits again. Manny Oyakhilome led the Bulldogs with 14 points in a losing effort.

With a league title now in hand, Northport looks to have a strong finish to what has been a memorable regular season campaign to this point.

“We definitely want to go undefeated [in league play],” O’Shea said. “But we also know that we have to take it one game at a time.”

The Tigers, now 10-0 in League II, will next travel to face off against Walt Whitman on Friday, Feb. 5, at 6:30 p.m. The Wildcats have struggled of late, but D’Eloia is not overlooking the league rival.

“They’re a very well coached and disciplined team, and they would like nothing more than to knock us off,” D’Eloia said. “So we’re going to prepare for that game the same way we’ve prepared for all the other games.”

Huntington's Kenny Charles leaps up to the rim in the Blue Devils' 61-35 victory over Centereach on Jan. 5. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Huntington turned up the heat in the second half to close the door on previously undefeated Centereach, 61-35, in League III boys’ basketball action Tuesday night.

Centereach's Jake Marzocca shoots in the Cougars' 61-35 loss to Huntington on Jan. 5. Photo by Bill Landon
Centereach’s Jake Marzocca shoots in the Cougars’ 61-35 loss to Huntington on Jan. 5. Photo by Bill Landon

Centereach was previously 3-0 in league play and 6-1 overall, while Huntington sat at 1-2 and 1-6 before the win. The game was close after eight minutes of play, as the Cougars were ahead, 10-9, to open the second quarter, despite both teams being sluggish from the opening tipoff. The Blue Devils found their rhythm and the rim in the second, to pull ahead with the victory.

Huntington came alive behind the hot hands of senior guard Kenny Charles, who notched 10 points in the quarter after hitting a pair of three-pointers, a field goal and two foul shots. Teammate Quincy Nelson matched Charles with a pair of treys of his own to help put his team out front, 33-16, by the halftime break.

“We trusted each other and we executed out on the court, and that’s how we got the ‘W,’” said Nelson, who is also a senior guard. “They’re a very good team and coach told us at halftime that we had to take better shots.”

Huntington was patient in the second half, choosing to wait for the open shot rather than drive the lane. The Blue Devils were content with letting their three-point proficiency dominate the third quarter, as Charles hit his fourth and junior guard and forward Kevin Lawrence hit his second, while Nelson was fouled attempting his third, sending him to the charity stripe shooting three. Nelson was perfect from the line, and Huntington surged ahead 43-24 to begin the final eight minutes in regulation.

Huntington's Quincy Nelson sets the play in the Blue Devils' Jan. 5 61-35 victory over Centereach. Photo by Bill Landon
Huntington’s Quincy Nelson sets the play in the Blue Devils’ Jan. 5 61-35 victory over Centereach. Photo by Bill Landon

“We haven’t seen Huntington — we saw them once last year,” Centereach senior guard Kevin Callahan said. “We were told that they were going to shoot, and I guess we didn’t respect it, and they punished us for that.”

Charles said that knowing Centereach’s record, his team expected the worst, adding that all his team thought about was playing to win the game.

“We’re 1-2 in the league and our record doesn’t give our team justice,” he said. “In the second half, we knew we couldn’t let up. The game was far from over, but we came out with the win.”

Callahan hit his first three-pointer of the game and added a field goal in the fourth quarter, while fellow senior Jake Marzocca, a forward, found the net for two points, but the Cougars couldn’t keep the pace.

Centereach head coach Ed Miller, fresh off a recent scouting report, told his team that Huntington is a long-range scoring threat, but the Blue Devils were still hard to contain.

“We needed to do a better job at stepping out on them,” Marzocca said. “And when we did step out on them, it didn’t help. They were just hitting their shots — it was their game.”

Centereach's Kevin Callahan scores in the Blue Devils' Jan. 5 61-35 loss to Huntington. Photo by Bill Landon
Centereach’s Kevin Callahan scores in the Blue Devils’ Jan. 5 61-35 loss to Huntington. Photo by Bill Landon

For Huntington, the fourth quarter was all senior guard Dan Mollitor, who hit his third trifecta of the game and nailed a pair of free throws, while Charles hit a pair of three-pointers to finish with six on the night, as Huntington slammed the door on Centereach.

“They’re very, very good — I’ve picked them second in the league, and they’re at a different level than us right now,” Miller said. “I didn’t expect it to be an almost 30-point loss, but I expected them to be very good, especially at their own home place.”

Charles led his team with 26 points, followed by Lawrence, who added 13.

On the top of the scoring list for Centereach was Marzocca with 12 points, while Callahan followed close behind with nine.

Huntington hits the road today, as the Blue Devils invade West Islip, with opening tipoff scheduled for 5:45 p.m. Centereach will host North Babylon today at 6:15 p.m.

This versions corrects the name of Jake Marzocca.

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Mount Sinai senior Noah Wessels changes direction in a Dec. 18 nonleague loss to Rocky Point, 46-41. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Rocky Point’s s

rry Lynch led his team to victory with 30 points in the Eagles’ come-from-behind win over host Mount Sinai, 46-41, in nonleague boys’ basketball action Friday night.

Rocky Point senior Harry Lynch shoots on his way to a team-high 30 points in a Dec. 18 nonleague win over Mount Sinai, 46-41. Photo by Bill Landon
Rocky Point senior Harry Lynch shoots on his way to a team-high 30 points in a Dec. 18 nonleague win over Mount Sinai, 46-41. Photo by Bill Landon

Lynch, a senior, went to work early in the opening quarter with three three-pointers and two field goals to help put his team out front 17-10 after the first eight minutes of play.

“We came out hot,” he said. “Everyone was setting screens and we were moving the ball. I was lucky I hit a couple of shots.”

On the other side of the court, Mount Sinai senior Nolan Kelly carried the load early for the Mustangs, banking a trifecta, a field goal and a pair of free throws for seven of his teams’ 19 points after two quarters of play.

“Harry Lynch is who we’ve keyed on for the last three seasons,” Kelly said. “We played fairly well, but we missed a lot of shots. Had we shot the way we’ve been shooting, we would’ve pulled this one out.”

Lynch remained unstoppable, as he hit his fourth trey and netted a pair of field goals to help his team to a 27-19 advantage by the halftime break.

“We’re lucky to have Harry [Lynch],” Rocky Point head coach James Jordan said. “He was on fire in that first half and he continued in the second half. He’s our general out there so where he goes, we go.”

The Mustangs were fired up coming out of the locker room, though, and because Rocky Point lost the battle of the boards in the first half, Jordan said it forced some adjustments. As a result, Mount Sinai opened the third quarter with an answer for Lynch, as the team closed within one point at the 5:33 mark, 30-29.

Mount Sinai senior Nolan Kelly attempts a jumper in a Dec. 18 nonleague loss to Rocky Point, 46-41. Photo by Bill Landon
Mount Sinai senior Nolan Kelly attempts a jumper in a Dec. 18 nonleague loss to Rocky Point, 46-41. Photo by Bill Landon

“We came out strong in the first half, but we came out a little flat in the second,” Rocky Point sophomore Alec Rinaldi said. “We’ve been known to do that, but we stuck with them — we weathered the storm; got right back in it.”

Behind senior Noah Wessels’ six points in the quarter, with four other players contributing, Mount Sinai scored a field goal to give the Mustangs their first lead of the game, 31-30.

The score flip-flopped, and by the fourth quarter it was Rocky Point that was clinging to a one-point advantage, 37-36.

The Eagles looked to finish off the Mustangs, and surged ahead 43-36 with just over three minutes to go, but Mount Sinai battled back and trimmed the deficit to 43-41 with just under two minutes left in the game.

“I didn’t think they were going to be that strong shooting out of the gate,” Mount Sinai senior Vinny Margulies said. “Defensively, we played well the whole game. It’s just that we were shaky shooting throughout the game.”

Rocky Point sophomore Alec Rinaldi drives the lane in a Dec. 18 nonleague win over Mount Sinai, 46-41. Photo by Bill Landon
Rocky Point sophomore Alec Rinaldi drives the lane in a Dec. 18 nonleague win over Mount Sinai, 46-41. Photo by Bill Landon

Mount Sinai had the opportunity to tie the game with 46 seconds left on a 1-and-1 opportunity, but missed. As the clock wound down to 20 seconds, Lynch was fouled and confidently swished both to seal the deal. With 4.4 seconds on the clock, Rocky Point senior Colin Kotarski scored once off his appearance at the charity stripe, to give the game its final score.

“Harry Lynch is an outstanding player and he showed that again tonight,” Mount Sinai head coach Ryan McNeely said. “We played him man-to-man and he was getting real good looks and getting shots, so we changed to a zone where we trapped to keep the ball out of his hands to make someone else hurt us.”

Lynch scored six three-pointers on the evening. Rinaldi banked seven points and Kotarski tacked on six.

Topping the scoreboard for Mount Sinai was Kelly with 12, while Wessels and Margulies tacked on eight points apiece.

Rocky Point will have a week off before hosting Shoreham-Wading River next Wednesday, Dec. 30, at 11 a.m. Mount Sinai hits the road Tuesday for a 6 p.m. tipoff at East Hampton.

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Kollin McDonald, fourth from left in top row with trophy, and his teammates and coaches after the game against Longwood on Friday, where he received the game ball and MVP trophy. Photo from Tom Femminella

Sometimes it’s not the wins or losses that matter most in a game, it’s the bonds formed when playing.

For Ward Melville senior Kollin McDonald, he realized how strong that bond was with his basketball teammates after the loss of his mother last week.

The guard darted to the hospital last Monday after receiving a text message that his mother was rushed there. Mary McDonald had cancer for seven years, starting with breast cancer, and after she was in remission was told it had come back more aggressively, and spread throughout her body.

Kollin McDonald and his mother Mary, while pumpkin picking this year. Photo from Kollin McDonald

The team attended the wake, and head coach Tom Femminella said despite it being an emotional evening, he thought it made it a little easier for his athlete to have his team’s support.

“As a coach in any sport you press the kids on family — family is important,” he said. “When you’re actually there and someone needs you when the chips aredown, it shows a lot of resolve that will hopefully transfer onto the court and will make these kids closer for the season and hopefully for the rest of their lives.”

Femminella invited McDonald’s close friend and teammate Chris Woods to ask McDonald if he would play as a starter in Friday’s game — the same day as his mother’s funeral.

“For him it was the most exciting news,” Woods said. “His family was all excited once they heard too, and they came after the funeral to the game.”

Being that McDonald is not normally a starter, it was a memorable moment for him walking out on the court.

“It was honestly an honor to be asked to play ” McDonald said. “It was more of a ‘getting past and moving on’ thing because once I got asked, I was very emotional, but I knew at that point that we were a strong team and that they had my back with anything.”

McDonald said the memories of his mother and thinking about her every day is what gets him through, but it is also the love from his coach and teammates, and it showed that night on the court.

The senior started off the evening with two rebounds in a 50-40 win over Longwood, and it ignited the team.

“Those were probably the two most aggressive rebounds I’ve ever had — ever, in any game I’ve ever played,” he said with a laugh. “It was very emotional watching the tape afterward because I knew [those rebounds] were for my mom, and it was a great feeling.”

Kollin McDonald and his mother Mary after his sixth-grade graduation. Photo from Kollin McDonald

The team wore pink socks in support of breast cancer awareness to the game and will continue to wear them through the rest of the season, Femminella said, adding that he will also be wearing special sneakers to support his player.

“It was more important that he was getting back to a little bit of normalcy,” Femminella said. “And then we brought him the trophy and the game ball, and he got the MVP [title] because he was the MVP. He inspired the rest of the kids. If he can be there and he can show this effort and be strong, why can’t they?”

Woods also said it was great to see his friend and teammate in high spirits.

“He had a big smile on his face and was able to go out there and start the game,” Woods said, adding that he and his teammates were also grinning from ear-to-ear and leaping off the bench when McDonald scored. “It helped him get his mind off of things to get him out there. It was the best feeling for all of us when he got those rebounds — he played his heart out.”

McDonald said it’s meant everything to have his school’s support.

“Having a group of guys to talk to at any point and any time in my life,” he said, “it’s a great feeling.”

McDonald thanked his teammates and coaches for their support after what he said is his most memorable game , adding that he thought wearing the pink socks for the rest of the season is a nice way for them to support him and his family for the remainder of the year.

“We’re taking this tough event as a bonding moment for all of us,” Woods said. “I think Kollin is going through a tough time, but the pink socks represent how we’ve all become brothers, and we’re all going to be there for each other no matter what happens.”