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Girls Basketball

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Melissa Marchese proved herself in sports, was set to graduate June 28

Shoreham-Wading River senior forward Melissa Marchese battles in the paint Feb. 11. Photo by Bill Landon

A community that has become much too familiar to tragedy was left reeling June 14 as Melissa Marchese, 18, a Shoreham resident and senior at the high school passed from her injuries received in a car crash the day before.

Shoreham-Wading River senior Melissa Marchese During an April 22 Softball game. Photo by Bill Landon

Suffolk County police confirmed her death Saturday,  June 15.

Marchese’s father Charlie Marchese posted a lengthy eulogy on his Facebook page. He called his daughter “… brilliant, she was magnetic,” and said she fought long enough in order for doctors to donate her organs, something she had always wished to do.

“She would light up the room with her smile and make everybody burst with laughter,” Marchese’s father wrote. “Melissa was a remarkable athlete. Fierce, determined, and focused. Just try to slide into her at home plate or try to battle her for a rebound. She did not lose. She was a born leader in all facets of her life. Whether barking instructions on the softball field or leading her friends in a dance or a song, everyone would follow her. She did not lose.”

Marchese was in the backseat of a car turning left onto Route 25A from Miller Avenue June 13. The high school was having its senior honoring ceremony. Another vehicle, driven by Ridge resident Michael Troiano, 34, went through a red light and struck Marchese’s vehicle. The two other students in Marchese’s car, Evan Flannery, 17, and Caroline Tyburski, 18, both of Shoreham, were transported to St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson with non-life-threatening injuries. Marchese was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital, where she died a day later.

The Shoreham-Wading River school district released statements Friday and Saturday.

Melissa Marchese battles Mount Sinai senior Gabby Sartori for a loose ball under the boards Jan. 22. Photo by Bill Landon

“We extend our deepest condolences to the individual’s family and friends, and we continue to keep all those involved and impacted by this tragedy in our thoughts during this very difficult time,” the district wrote on its website.

Marchese was well known in the district for her work on the basketball court and the softball field.

Adam Lievre, Marchese’s basketball coach, said he would watch Marchese move around the court and be awed at her tenacity. It was that tenacity, he said, that had her fighting death until the time they could donate her organs.

“She was willing to throw her body anywhere and everywhere to get every rebound,” he said. “I’ve never coached a kid who wanted rebounds so badly, and she went after every ball with this relentless effort. It was contagious when the other kids saw how hard she worked, was an example she led on the court.”

He remembered two cases of her caring personality. One was on the court where she saw eighth-grader GraceAnn Leonard get knocked over, and she “sprinted” over to help her up. The other was in the locker room after the team’s heartbreaking playoff 42-41 loss against Sayville Feb. 12. 

“She was sitting right in front of me in tears, so emotional about losing but so thankful, she said how thankful she was to be a part of the team and how great it was,” Lievre said.

Marchese was known as a standout softball player in SWR, having been recognized as All-League in the Scholar-Athlete Team in March and was committed to the University of Hartford for softball.

Once it became known of Marchese’s hospitalization, a GoFundMe page was started, and within a day raised nearly $20,000. By Tuesday, June 17, the site had raised over $60,000.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Melissa and the Marchese family,” Joseph Dwyer, the GoFundMe organizer, wrote to the page. “Thank you all for your generous donations during this time of unthinkable sadness and utter despair. God Bless.”

The school district canceled senior finals June 14 and made mental health staff available. The district also invited students to the high school library Saturday for staff to support them.

Melissa Marchese. Photo from SWR School District

Shoreham has become well known for tragedies of this kind. In 2014 the community grieved for Tom Cutinella, who died due to a head injury on the football field. In 2018, the community wrapped hundreds of red ribbons on flagpoles to memorialize Andrew McMorris, who was killed by a drunk driver while out on a hike with his Boy Scout troop. 

The Andrew McMorris and Tom Cutinella memorial foundations both shared their condolences on their Facebook pages.

“No one should ever have to go through this,” a post to the Tom Cutinella Memorial Foundation Facebook page read.

Marchese’s wake will be held at Branch Funeral Home, located at 551 Route 25A in Miller Place, on June 20 from 7 to 9 p.m. and June 21 from 2 to 5 p.m. and at 7 to 9 p.m. Marchese’s funeral procession will leave the funeral home at approximately 9:30 a.m. on June 22. A Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. at St. Mark’s R.C. Church, located at 105 Randall Road in Shoreham.

This article has been updated to reflect the name of the eighth-grader who Marchese helped up.

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By Bill Landon

It was a battle of the titans Feb. 27 as the Mustangs of Mount Sinai (21-3), the Class A small school champions, squared off against the Longwood Lions (21-2), the Class AA large school winners, for the overall Suffolk title.

The Lions outpaced the Mustangs for most of the way to capture the overall Suffolk crown at Walt Whitman High School with a 70-45 victory. They will advance to the Class AA Long Island Championship round.

Senior Gabby Sartori, who had led the way for several games in the playoffs, again set the pace of her team in scoring with two triples, two field goals and five from the line for 15 points. Senior Brooke Cergol hit three field goals and two treys for 12 while senior Margaret Kopcienski banked 11.

Mount Sinai lives to fight another day as they too will compete against Nassau County’s best in Class A action March 9 at Farmingdale State College. Tip-off is at noon.

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By Bill Landon

Mount Sinai, fresh off their decisive 27 point victory against Westhampton for the Class A title game Feb. 20, squared off against Class C qualifier Pierson/Bridgehampton for the small school crown Feb. 22. Having already won against the No. 1 seed Westhampton, Pierson should have been a much easier match, yet there was nothing easy about it when the Whalers closed to with four points late in the 3rd quarter before the Mustangs stood on the gas and shut the door to win the game 69-55.

Mount Sinai senior guard Gabby Sartori led the way like she has all season nailing 11 field goals, a triple and seven free throws to lead the Mustangs in scoring with 32. Senior guard Brooke Cergol hit three from the floor, two treys and a pair from the charity stripe notching 14 followed by senior teammate Holly McNair who banked seven.

The win propels the Mustangs to the section XI championship round where they’ll face Longwood who currently sits atop Class AA field Feb. 27 at Walt Whitman High School. Tip-off is at 4:30 p.m.

By Bill Landon

Northport girls basketball, No. 2 seed, faced a tough match against No. 3-ranked Ward Melville Tuesday night to keep their championship dreams alive.

It was a tight game that saw several lead changes but with less the 2 minutes left the Tigers defense stood its ground, holding Ward Melville at bay to clinch a 61-56 victory in the Class AA semifinal round.

Northport junior Danielle Pavinelli topped the scoring charts for the Tigers with six 2-pointers, a trey and 5 from the stripe for a total of 20 points.  Junior guard Kelly McLaughlin followed with 14 and junior forward Kerry Dennin banked 11 points on the night.

Ward Melville’s Lauren Hansen led the way in scoring for the Patriots netting seven field goals, three triples and 10 from the free throw line for 33 points. 

Northport’s season continues Feb. 22 when they’ll face off against top-seeded Longwood for the Class AA crown. The game will be hosted at Walt Whitman High School, located at 301 W. Hills Road in Huntington Station, with tipoff at 7 p.m.

By Bill Landon

Hauppauge’s girls basketball team led by seven after the first eight minutes of play but the visiting Mustangs of Mount Sinai, the No. 5 seed, slammed the door, outscoring the Eagles 14-5 before exploding in the 3rd quarter. Mount Sinai senior guard Gabby Sartori caught fire, swishing 3-pointers from seemingly anywhere to lead her team to a 56-43 win, upsetting top-seeded Hauppauge in a class A semifinal game Feb. 16.

Sartori’s hot hand led the way for the Mustangs, hitting four triples, four field goals and a free throw for 21 points. Sartori tallied three assists and eight rebounds to boot. Senior Brooke Cergol hit four field goals, a trey and a pair of free throws for 13 while senior teammate Holly McNair banked 12.

Hauppauge sophomore guard Kayla Bullard topped the scoring chart for the Eagles, tallying 13 followed by junior forward Lauren Romito who chipped in 10.

The win pit the Mustangs against Westhampton Feb. 20 at Centereach High School which they won, and now they will face Pierson High School for small school champion title Feb. 27 at 4:30 in Walt Whitman High School.

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By Bill Landon

Shoreham-Wading River’s girls basketball team had their work cut out for them in an out-bracket playoff game against Sayville Feb. 11. The Wildcats had faced Sayville twice during the regular season and lost by 19 and 22 points, respectively. However, this was a different Wildcat team with a swarming defense that held Sayville at bay, leading by five at the half and then by three to open the 4th quarter. Sayville was able to tie the game with 4 minutes left as both teams struggled to find the rim. Tied at 41 all with six seconds left, the officials called a foul on the Wildcats, sending Sayville to the line shooting two. Sayville made the first but missed the second as the Wildcats rebounded the ball with less than four seconds remaining. SWR managed to get a shot off, but it missed its mark as time expired in a heartbreaking 42-41 loss.

Co-captain and senior Michele Corona led the way for the Wildcats with 22 points, fellow co-captain Abby Korzekwinski, a junior, netted 8 while eighth-grader GraceAnn Leonard banked six. The loss concludes the Wildcats season with a 9-10 record in League V with a 9-12 record overall. 

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By Bill Landon

Ward Melville girls basketball hosted the Commack Cougars where the Patriots led from opening tipoff and never looked back, winning, 59-40, in a League I matchup on senior night, Feb. 5.

The Patriots led by five points after 16 minutes of play before they turned up the heat and outscored the Cougars, 22-10, in the third quarter.

Ward Melville senior Lauren Hansen sat atop the Patriot scoring charts swishing three from the foul line, nine field goals and a triple along with seven rebounds for 24 points. Junior Jamie Agostino followed with four triples and two field goals good for 16. Junior Morgan Wenzler banked five field goals and a free throw for 11 points, and led her team in rebounds gathering 13.

With the win, Ward Melville improves to 13-2 for second place in league behind undefeated Longwood with one game left Feb. 7 at Sachem East before postseason play begins.

By Bill Landon

The Comsewogue Warriors girls basketball team came out strong for the first three quarters Jan. 31, but visiting Smithtown East Bulls put their foot on the gas in the final 8 minutes of play outscoring Comsewogue, 19 to 13, to snatch a 40-33 victory.

Smithtown East junior Brianna Durland led the Bulls in scoring with 12 points. She was followed by junior Katie Bigliani and sophomore Katie Illari who banked seven each.

On the Comsewogue side, sophomores Samantha Andresen, Annalise Russo and eighth-grader Danielle McGuire all notched seven points apiece.

With the win, Smithtown East improves to 6-7 in league with three games remaining before the postseason. The Bulls are set to take on the undefeated North Babylon Feb. 5 at 5:45 p.m.

The loss drops Comsewogue to 3-10 in league with three games remaining in the regular season, the last game of which is on the road against Huntington Feb. 7. Tipoff is at 5:45 p.m.

By Bill Landon

The Northport Tigers stood alone atop the League II leaderboard at 9-2 when they hit the road against Half Hollow Hills East, 8-2, who looked to displace the Tigers for the top spot. Displace them they did when the Thunderbirds defeated Northport,  64-50, Jan. 25 on their own home court.

Northport’s defense struggled to contain Hills East’s Shamar Moore-Hough who led the Thunderbirds in scoring with 19 points.

Northport sophomore guard Pat Healy led the Tigers in scoring with 15 points, senior forward Ian Melamerson followed adding 13 and junior guard Sean Walsh banked 11.

The loss bumps Northport from their perch to second place in league with four games remaining before the postseason begins. The Tigers will retake the court Jan. 31 hosting Lindenhurst at 6 p.m.

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By Bill Landon

Despite a late game surge by the Wildcats, Mount Sinai’s girls basketball team was able to make a stand holding off visiting Shoreham-Wading River in a League V contest Jan. 22 for a 50-39 victory. Mount Sinai senior Gabby Sartori banked seven field goals and eight free throws to lead her team with 22 points. Senior Brooke Cergol followed up netting a 3-pointer, four field goals and one from the stripe putting up a total of 12. Atop the leaderboard for the Wildcats was senior Melissa Marchese who swished five and made three from the line for 13 points. 

The win puts the Mustangs at 9-3 league 11-3 overall with six games remaining. This puts them solidly in the playoff mix. The loss drops the Wildcats to 6-6 league 6-8 overall and will need several wins in their remaining six games to secure postseason berth. 

The Wildcats have three of those games in the next eight days as the regular season winds down. Mount Sinai retakes the court Jan. 26 hosting Bayport-Blue Point and again two days later Jan. 28 facing Westhampton at home. Game times are 10:00 a.m. and 6:15 p.m., respectively.

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