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East Hampton

Redeems last season’s one-hole playoff loss for runner-up status

Port Jefferson's Shane DeVincenzo bested his last season runner-up record by placing first in the Suffolk County championship Nov. 4. Photo from Port Jefferson athletics

By Jim Ferchland

For Shane DeVincezo, the mental game of golf has always been his focus. The Port Jefferson junior came into the Nov. 3 Suffolk County championship hoping to place in the Top 9, as is his goal every season, and after finishing with a 69, 2-under par, on the first day of the tournament Nov. 2, he knew he was in a good place to keep pushing toward his target position.

“I thought, if I try to go out there and win, the Top 9 will just automatically happen,” he said. “If I try to go for Top 9 and just worry about that and not push for the lead, I think I’ve got a good chance. I thought, with the position I’m in right now, there’s no doubt I can make states.”

With his first place Suffolk County finish, Port Jefferson golfer Shane DeVincenzo qualified to compete in the state tournament. Photo by Jim Ferchland

DeVincenzo followed up his day one performance with an even-par 71 Friday to capture the county title with a 36-hole total of 140, good for 2-under-par at Manorville’s Rock Hill Golf and Country Club.

The Port Jefferson golfer avenged his second-place finish from last year’s tournament in capturing the top spot. In 2016 he lost to East Hampton’s Turner Foster on a one-hole playoff. Foster finished tied for second in Suffolk Nov. 3.

Port Jefferson head coach Chuck Ruoff said he is proud of what his athlete has accomplished.

“He wasn’t going to let last year define him,” Ruoff said. “I know that in his heart last year gave him a lot of motivation. For two days he just went out and played his best.”

DeVincenzo overcame a rocky front nine in the first round by his standards, shooting one over to start his tournament. He rallied after that and finished three under on the back nine for the best score of the day.

“I felt I did really good,” DeVincenzo said on his performance on that back nine. “I wouldn’t say it was really a bad front nine — the front nine is a lot harder here and you just gotta get through it. On the back nine, my putter got rolling and I made a lot of good putts which saved me. Three under par is pretty good.”

He said there was something familiar about the Manorville course that he thought gave him an advantage.

“These greens are kind of like Port Jeff,” DeVincenzo said. “They’re just a little more sloped, but distance-wise and yardage-wise, they’re practically the same. Playing at Port Jeff definitely helps playing at Rock Hill.”

Port Jefferson junior Shane DeVincenzo swings away during the first of the two-day Suffolk County championship tournament. Photo by Jim Ferchland

Ruoff has been by DeVincenzo’s side since he starting golding in eighth grade, and said he’s in awe of the 16-year-old’s abilities.

“It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen,” Ruoff said of DeVincenzo’s talent. “He picked up the game somewhat late for someone who’s got to this ability level. Just between how hard he works and the instruction he’s given, it’s just really hard to explain. Year to year he’s made huge jumps in his game.”

Although DeVincenzo also trains at Port Jefferson Country Club under head professional Bill Mackedon, he said he looks at Ruoff like his best friend, adding that his coach makes the game a lot easier.

“We bond very well — I really like him as a coach,” he said. “Ever since I started in eighth grade, he’s been there as a supporter. Even when I’m struggling he’s there to help me. I have him to back me up and he helps me boost up my confidence.”

DeVincenzo golfed in a foursome Nov. 3 along with Pierson’s Henry Brooks, Eastport-South Manor’s Andrea Ternavasio and Sayville’s Sean Haselton. DeVincenzo has played with his Sayville opponent before.

“Me and Shane have been playing together for a long time,” Haselton said. “He got hot with the putter today and that’s what did it for him. I feel we feed off each other — he makes a good putt, then I make a good putt. We both played really solid. It’s fun to play with people playing well.”

Haselton finished the first day with a 73, one over par, and ended day two tied for second with

Foster and Habrorfields’ Pat Healy. In the team competition, he helped Sayville win its first county title since 2013 with an 813, ahead of Harborfields (826) and Smithtown West (831).

Port Jefferson’s Shane DeVincenzo eyes his target. Photo by Jim Ferchland

DeVincenzo, the second-place trio, Huntington’s Tyler Gerbavsits (148), Sayville’s Brendan Smith (152) and Smithtown West’s John Pawlowski (153) all qualified to compete in the state tournament, along with Connetquot’s Kyle Zere and Huntington’s Matt Giamo, who finished tied for eighth at 154. They earned the final two spots by besting Harborfields’ Andre Chi in a one-hole playoff.

Pierson’s Brooks also said he enjoyed playing alongside top competitors, saying he was fascinated seeing DeVincenzo play for the first time.

“He played great today,” Brooks said of DeVincenzo. “He was hitting every drive straight — drilling long putts. He was really dialed in.”

Even before DeVincenzo’s performance at Rock Hill, Ruoff said his athlete is the greatest player he’s ever coached.

“Without a doubt in my mind he is,” Ruoff said. “There have been some great players that we’ve had the privilege of seeing at Ward Melville, who is our closest competitor, through the years. As far as Port Jeff goes, he’s been the best player I’ve been around by far.”

Ruoff said he sees DeVincenzo finishing Top 5 in the state.

“I feel that anything can happen on a given day in a round of golf, but he’s certainly right at the top,” Ruoff said of DeVincenzo. “Every year he has slightly exceeded his high expectations, and I have high expectations for him. He just blessed with a lot of talent.”

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The Harborfields boys' basketball team celebrates its 45-42 victory over East Hampton for the Suffolk County Class A title. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

The No. 1-seeded Harborfields boys’ basketball team led by 10 points before the No. 2 East Hampton Bonackers rallied back and, with a big 3-pointer, tied the game at 42-42 with a minute left in regulation at Suffolk County Community College’s Selden campus Friday night. Despite the scare, the Tornadoes were able to pull ahead for a close 45-42 victory, for the Suffolk County Class A title.

Alex Merhige battles his way to the rim. Photo by Bill Landon
Alex Merhige battles his way to the rim. Photo by Bill Landon

“I thought, ‘Why did I sign up for this job?’ because it’s getting me gray and bald, but I have a lot of confidence in my guys, because they’ve been in games like this before,” Harborfields head coach John Tampori said of the game being tied in the final minute. “We pushed up, we pressed to speed up the tempo of the game so we could get some easy shots, but these guys with their effort were amazing. Even when they couldn’t shoot the ball they still found a way to score enough points.”

Harborfields struggled to find the rim in the first period, but down by two points with time expiring, Harborfields junior forward Alex Merhige swished a buzzer-beating field goal to tie the game at 11-11.

Both teams traded points until deadlocked at 17-17, but by the time the teams made their way to the locker room, East Hampton pulled ahead 23-19.

The scoreboard remained frozen for most of the third quarter, as both teams struggled to find the net. Harborfields held its opponent to just three points, a trifecta by Kyle McKee, who would make his presence known in the final quarter.

Harborfields senior guard Robert Pecorelli sparked a rally late in the period, netting eight points to put his team out front 29-26.

Malcolm Wynter plows his way through traffic to the hoop. Photo by Bill Landon
Malcolm Wynter plows his way through traffic to the hoop. Photo by Bill Landon

In a miscue, East Hampton in-bounded the ball to a teammate who was standing out of bounds, which turned the ball over to the Tornadoes with just over four minutes remaining. With his team leading by one point, Harborfields senior guard Malcolm Wynter hit a big 3-pointer, his second of the night, to help his team edge ahead 37-33. Pecorelli followed with a trey of his own that pushed his team’s advantage to 40-36.

Wynter said he wasn’t surprised by East Hampton’s range and shooting prowess.

“We had them all scouted because it’s such a big game and we knew they had shooters, and shooters make shots, that’s what they do, but we can shoot, too,” he said.

East Hampton’s McKee struck with another trey to make it a one-point game, but Merhige answered with a field goal that helped his team stay out front 42-39 with just over a minute left. McKee, finding his rhythm outside, nailed his fourth triple of the game that tied it at 42-42,

“They hit that big shot, but we rallied together, tightened up on defense, got out on their shooters and had good possessions,” Harborfields senior guard Danny Morgan said.

Pecorelli said his teammates were able to keep their head in the game because they’ve been in pressure situations before.

“We’re all seniors and we stayed calm, we’ve been in that position before and we had a hard non-league schedule, especially when we played Elmont,” he said. “So we stayed relaxed ran the offense that our coach puts in and knew we’d be fine. Hard work pays off our defense played really well tonight.”

With the clock winding down to seven seconds, Harborfields senior guard Alex Bloom, off a feed from Wynter, swished a three-point shot for the lead that held up at the buzzer.

Harborfields advances to take on No. 1-ranked Southampton, the Class B champion, Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Suffolk County Community College’s Brentwood campus, in the Small School championship game.

“We’ll scout them, and we’ll have a couple of good practices and then,” Morgan said, “we’ll do what we do.”

The Harbofields boys' basketball team poses for a group photo with their championship plaque. Photo by Bill Landon
The Harbofields boys’ basketball team poses for a group photo with their championship plaque. Photo by Bill Landon

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Miller Place senior Danielle Bamnola maintains possession of the ball inside the paint in the Panthers' 61-18 win over East Hampton on Jan. 19. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Miller Place girls’ basketball team snapped an eight-game losing streak with its first win since early December and second League VI win of the season, in a 61-18 victory over East Hampton Tuesday.

Miller Place junior Elizabeth Corbin makes her way into East Hampton's zone in the Panthers' 61-18 win over East Hampton on Jan. 19. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Miller Place junior Elizabeth Corbin makes her way into East Hampton’s zone in the Panthers’ 61-18 win over East Hampton on Jan. 19. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Most of the girls’ losses over that streak were close, with the girls losing by four to six points in half of them.

The Panthers’ last win was a 57-32 win over East Hampton on Dec. 11, and since then, the girls have shown they’ve improved by allowing fewer points and tacking on more against the Bonackers this time around.

Senior Milan Hatcher started the game off with two points, and nearly four minutes went by before the next points were put on the board. This time, it was East Hampton scoring a three-pointer, which the Bonackers followed with a long field goal to take a 5-2 lead.

At the 3:02 mark, junior Elizabeth Corbin scored a field goal to pull within one point, and senior Jess Powers tacked on a layup with 1:33 left in the first quarter to give the team a lead it would never relinquish. Sophomore Kelli Ryan scored a layup after a turnover and sophomore Victoria Iavarone swished one free-throw point to give the Panthers a 9-5 lead at the end of eight minutes.

Miller Place sophomore Victoria Iavarone moves the ball downcourt in the Panthers' 61-18 win over East Hampton on Jan. 19. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Miller Place sophomore Victoria Iavarone moves the ball downcourt in the Panthers’ 61-18 win over East Hampton on Jan. 19. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Miller Place was forcing turnovers and stealing passes, but both teams were victims of traveling, and both had trouble getting their shots to fall.

Those errors continued into the second stanza, leaving Miller Place unable to score for nearly the first two minutes of play, while the Panthers held East Hampton scoreless across the full eight minutes.

With 6:12 remaining, sophomore Jillian Patterson broke the ice with a long two-point field goal. A minute later, senior Danielle Bamnola scored a layup, and seconds after that, Iavarone tacked on another two points to extend her team’s lead to 15-5.

Corbin netted a field goal, while Bamnola added two free-throw points and Hatcher added another, to bring the halftime score to 20-5.

From there, it was smooth sailing for the Panthers as their shots began to fall in the second half.

Miller Place senior Jess Powers prepares to pass the ball in the Panthers' 61-18 win over East Hampton on Jan. 19. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Miller Place senior Jess Powers prepares to pass the ball in the Panthers’ 61-18 win over East Hampton on Jan. 19. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Miller Place nearly doubled its first-half score in the third quarter alone, tacking on 17 more points while holding its opponent to five, and lit up the scoreboard even more in the fourth, with 24 points to East Hampton’s eight.

Bamnola led all scorers with 15 points. Hatcher finished with 12 and Patterson contributed 11. Corbin tallied eight points on the evening, Powers, Ryan and sophomore Kaylee Deleva added four points apiece and Iavarona rounded out the scoring with three points on the evening.

The Panthers (3-9 overall, 2-6 in conference play) are back in action today when they travel to Hampton Bays (6-1 in League VI) for a 5:45 p.m. tipoff.