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Girls Basketball

The Comsewogue girls basketball team continued their pre-season winning ways in a non-league matchup against Centereach Dec. 9. The Warriors downed the Cougars 39-27 to make it five in a row. Comsewogue senior Veronica Riddick topped the scoring charts for the Warriors with nine points and 10 rebounds. Teammate Lindsay Hanson banked eight and Annalise Russo and Danielle McGuire netted seven points each.

Both teams have one more non-league contest before hitting the road to begin league play Dec 17. The Cougars travel to Smithtown West searching for a win and the Warriors take on Deer Park both, games tipoff at 4 p.m.

 

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After winning their preseason games handily over Southold/Greenport and Deer Park, Shoreham-Wading River girls basketball team dropped their league opener against John Glenn and the Wildcats looked to get back to their winning ways. Win they did against Mount Sinai, edging the Mustangs 43-36 on the road Dec. 6.

SWR senior Abby Korzewinski led the way for the Wildcats with 13 points. Sophomore guard Carlie Cutinella did her damage from down range hitting three triples, netting a total of nine points.
Mount Sinai sophomore standouts Casey Campo nailed four treys, four field goals and a free throw to lead the Mustangs 21 points, while Kylie Budke banked nine.

Shoreham-Wading River retakes the court Dec. 10 when they host Miller Place with a 4:15 p.m. start. Mount Sinai is back in action when they take on Amityville on the road Dec. 11. Tipoff is 4 p.m.

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Former Ward Melville girls basketball head coach Samantha Prahalis coaches the Patriots from the sidelines at a January 2018 game. Photo by Jm Ferchland

Ward Melville High School girls varsity basketball players, parents and residents lent their voices in support for former coach Samantha Prahalis at a district board of education meeting Aug. 21.

The speakers during the board’s public session hoped that they could convince the board to reconsider the decision to dismiss the varsity girls’ basketball coach, which was made earlier this month. But after nearly a one-hour public comment session, the board ultimately sealed the coach’s fate. It would not reevaluate their initial decision to sever ties with Prahalis, a former WNBA player, and she would not be returning to the sidelines.

William Connors, Three Village board of education president, delivered the news to the crowd through a prepared statement.

“While the district does not comment on matters of personnel, I can say the coaching position for the Ward Melville [girls] high school varsity team currently remains open for the 2019-20 school year,” the board of education president said. “The district will not be filling this annual appointment with the individual who served in that role for the past two years. As such, we are in the process of selecting the most qualified individual to lead our team next year.”

Supporters of Prahalis questioned the board’s reasons for the dismissal and argued they acted too harshly. Some also felt that the district ignored and chose not to meet with students during the board’s investigation of the former coach.

“They have been trying to reach out to you from May 19,” said parent Gina Agostino. “We sent out a letter that day because players wanted to share their feelings on coach. Emails have been ignored, phone calls were not returned, request for meetings were blown off. You chose not to hear their voices … and treated them like adversaries the entire time.”

District officials disputed those claims saying they had reached out to parents.

Chris Agostino said the fact that the district would have their own agenda is embarrassing.

“I’ll tell you something, if I had students like this standing up for a coach the way these young ladies are, its powerful,” he said. “… What I don’t understand is that you get one complaint, maybe two complaints from parents or players and as a board you acted. You never listened to these students. You’re not looking out for them. If you were, you would understand how they feel.”

A parent of a former varsity girls basketball player said he supported the decision to release the coach. He detailed how in May he received a phone call from the district asking for permission for his daughter to be surveyed by the district’s athletic department regarding Prahalis and the basketball team.

He said he told his daughter to tell the truth and others did too and added that it was more than two complaints.

“My daughter for three years was treated terribly and was abused verbally and mentally without the board knowing, she wanted it that way and I stood by her,” he said. “Sammy’s [Prahalis] abusive record speaks for itself and anyone that asked about her knew about her reputation.”

Six former players of Prahalis were present at the meeting. Many of them spoke of how their coach was the best mentor they ever had and how they had learned and grown so much as a player during that time.

“Coach has transformed me not only as a better basketball player but also as a better person,” said Katherine Kelly, a rising senior on the varsity team. “She helped me gain the confidence I’ve been lacking on and off the court. She helped recognize my potential … She has made this team a family.”

This summer the team won in their league during the Brookhaven Town recreation program playoffs and credited their former coach for the strong summer season.

Cheryl Pedisich, Three Village superintendent of schools, spoke toward the end of the meeting to clarify some things parents brought up, including that she had said to Prahalis in a meeting that the district had failed her.

“I said the district had failed her in not giving her the proper mentorship, that I think every coach deserves, every new coach deserves,” she said. “For new coaches that don’t have that opportunity to know how to work with students is a travesty. That was something incumbent on the district and the former athletic director to make sure that happened for all new coaches. Moving forward every coach that is new will be mentored in an appropriate way.”

Post was updated Aug. 30 to include a statement from Three Village district officials. 

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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.