Tags Posts tagged with "Joe Caltagirone"

Joe Caltagirone

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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.

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Nora Gabel scores two points on a putback. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Comsewogue girls’ basketball team dropped its second-to-last game of the season to Sayville Feb. 7, 51-44, on senior night, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort from the Warriors.

Sam Collins prepares to take a shot from beyond the arc. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“I think we came out really strong, got them a little nervous — on their heels a little bit,” senior Sam Collins said.

That’s because she was swishing shot after shot from beyond the arc. Collins scored all nine of her team’s first-quarter points on 3-pointers, and added another at the start of the second.

“I work so hard on it and when I get an open shot I’m happy to take it,” she said. “It helps my teammates and it’s hard to contest a shot like that.”

Her coach likes what he’s seen from his four-year starter as well. Collins has racked up 43 3-pointers this season.

“She makes a living out there,” Comsewogue head coach Joe Caltagirone said. “She can post up too, but with the 1-3-1 defense that [Sayville plays] it was suited for her to stay out on the wing and take the open shots when she had them.”

The game, which was Comsewogue’s first home loss of the season, was tight through most of the first half. Collins’ fourth trey countered a Sayville 3-pointer, and junior Nora Gabel scored a field goal that put her team out front 14-11, but Sayville always had an answer, or two, and by the end of the first half Sayville had a 24-18 advantage.

Sayville’s defense intercepted multiple passes and won its fair share of battles on the boards, but junior Hannah Dorney grabbed multiple rebounds for Comsewogue, and forced a few turnovers herself.

Hannah Dorney carries the ball into Sayville’s zone after forcing a turnover. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“We softened their defense, we broke it down pretty good and got some good looks, but our shots didn’t fall,” Caltagirone said. “Hannah has been a great addition off the lacrosse team. We had to play their style with the aggressiveness and working baseline to baseline, which she helped with. I was pleased with their effort.”

Heading into the halftime break, Collins said her team talked about ways to make sure the game didn’t slip away.

“We wanted to move the ball a lot more to make them move because they’re eventually going to get tired,” she said. “If we take the first available shot, it’s easy for them to play defense, but if we wait the whole shot clock and get the best shot possible, they can’t do anything about it.”

At first, it worked. Senior Megan Turner drew a foul and sank both of her free throws, Gabel added a 3-pointer and Dorney scored a field goal to regain the lead for Comsewogue, 25-24. Despite the team’s best efforts, Sayville always had a response. Gabel and junior Georgia Alexiou added four points each in the third, but the Warriors fell behind 45-41. and that was the closest they would get.

“As the game progressed we lost it a little bit, then we came back, but there wasn’t enough time on the clock,” Collins said. “We communicate well, we didn’t give them easy baskets, we made them work for it, and we moved the ball.”

Sofia Colocho drives to the basket. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Caltagirone honored Collins, Turner, Brittany DeLeva, Lauren Gray and Christiany Pizarro before the game as part of the senior night festivities.

“It’s bittersweet — I’ll miss them,” the head coach said. “Some are three- and four-year players I’ve been coaching for a while and they mean a lot to the program. I’m happy for them, but I’m sad to lose them.”

Collins was also emotional.

“I never thought this day would come,” she said. “I wish we could’ve gotten the win, but I know we played our best, and that’s enough for me.”

She said despite the loss the energy is high heading into the postseason, and Caltagirone said he believes in the squad’s ability, noting how this season compared to last. The Warriors are winning the close games and aren’t letting teams back into games, something he said is big for the team.

“They do the hard work,” he said. “I’m pretty confident that we can play with anybody. We’ve shown we can play with anybody.”

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Girls' basketball team already making huge strides this season

Nora Gabel dribbles the ball around a Westhampton opponent. Photo by Desirée Keegan

What a difference a year can make.

With the Comsewogue girls’ basketball’s 54-37 win over Westhampton Jan. 10, the Warriors have already improved on last season’s League V record. Junior guard Nora Gabel, who experienced the struggles of last season first-hand, is leading the way this year.

Megan Turner moves the ball up the court. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“Westhampton is always a really close game — we’re really evenly matched, and last year we lost to them in overtime at the buzzer, so we came in knowing not to take it easy,” Gabel said.

The junior scored a game-high 23 points in the win, but classmate Megan Turner was responsible for getting the ball rolling.

Turner tallied 10 points in the first quarter to help the Warriors to a 20-8 lead after eight minutes. Senior Sam Collins added five points and Gabel chipped in four in the opening quarter.

Gabel said the team was successful because of the way the Warriors not only schemed against their opponent but also their unselfish team play.

“We knew what strategies they were going to use, so we practiced plays around it and helped other girls get to the basket to score,” she said. “We set a lot of screens to help others get open. No one is a selfish player. We pass each other the ball, and it helps.”

She said that was part of the team’s problem last season, which led to a 3-9 League V record. With the win over Westhampton, Comsewogue is now 4-1.

Sam Collins shoots a three-pointer. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Warriors slowed down in the second, scoring seven points — four from junior Georgia Alexiou — but still took a 27-16 lead into the locker room.

“We got stops when we needed it,” Comsewogue head coach Joe Caltagirone said. “I wasn’t too happy with the rebounding in the first half, but it was better in the second half. We have a few girls that can score and a few girls that play good defense, so we just play a good team game.”

The team rode the hot hand in the second half.

Gabel came out guns blazing, scoring the first nine points for her team with two field goals, a three-point play and two free throws.

“We’re able to force a lot of turnovers — we steal the ball a lot — and we’re fast too, so we can capitalize on those turnovers and get easy baskets,” Gabel said.

She had two breakaway baskets and five steals, and finished the scoring in the third with a buzzer-beating layup that put her team up 42-28.

“I was happy that she got a little more aggressive in the second half,” Caltagirone said of Gabel. “I think she was a little passive in the first half, but she totally changed the momentum of the game because they thought they had her in check, and then she got a couple of easy baskets in the third quarter and they exerted a lot of energy trying to play catch-up.”

The Warriors were able to control the final eight minutes, with Gabel scoring seven of the team’s 12 points.

Lauren Gray carries the ball into Westhampton’s zone. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“She scores in a variety of ways — she can hook the threes, she gets to the basket, she gets to the line; she’s shifty,” Caltagirone said. “She has a couple of moves in her arsenal she can use at any time. She takes pride in what she does and she works hard. There are games where she doesn’t score as much, but we win, and she’s happy with that, too.”

Gabel said she’s most excited about making a statement this season.

“Our games haven’t been that close, so I think we have a better chance of coming second in the league, or maybe even taking first if we beat Harborfields the second time we play them,” she said. “I want to make playoffs this season. Last season we were the underdogs and everyone thought we were so bad, and it’d be nice to show them who we really are.”

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Sohpomore guard Nora Gabel drives the baseline in Comsewogue's triple overtime loss to Westhampton on Jan. 30. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

It took three overtime periods to decide the Comsewogue girls’ basketball team’s fate Saturday, when the Warriors fell Westhampton, 59-57, after both teams were deadlocked at 41 points apiece at the end of regulation.

“We all wanted it so bad,” Comsewogue junior Stephanie Collins said of winning the game. “We wanted to come out and have a good last home game. We all just gave it our all. We hit some key shots, but I never thought it would go to three overtimes.”

The Warriors broke out to a 10-2 lead early in the game before the Hurricanes picked up speed, taking a one-point lead into the second quarter. Comsewogue battled back to outscore its opponent 13-7 over the next eight minutes, to take a 25-20 advantage into the halftime break.

Junior forward Samantha Collins reached for the rim. Photo by Bill Landon
Junior forward Samantha Collins reached for the rim. Photo by Bill Landon

Westhampton scored five unanswered points to tie the game at 25-25, but Collins went to the line shooting two and swished both to help her team edge ahead 27-25 with just under four minutes left in the third.

In the final seconds of the period, with the game retied at 32-32, the Hurricanes let a fall-away jumper go at the buzzer, which hit its mark to help the team edge ahead 34-32 to begin the final quarter.

Collins went to the line shooting two, and again netted both to tie the game at 34-34 with just over five minutes left in regulation. Collins was 9-for-10 at the charity stripe, and led her team in scoring, along with sophomore Nora Gabel. The two hit the scoreboard with 20 points apiece.

Both teams traded points while the clock unwound, and Westhampton hit a field goal to bring the game to 41-41 with 40 seconds on the clock.

With 3.9 seconds left, Westhampton inbounded the ball only to have it picked off by Comsewogue’s Sofia Colocho. The Warriors immediately called time out.

With time for one more play, Comsewogue junior guard Megan Turner dribbled to the top of the key, but didn’t have a clear look. Head coach Joe Caltagirone barked from the sideline for his team to shoot the ball. Turner didn’t like the look, but let the ball fly. Her attempt just rimmed out at the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.

“It was a great effort, especially on a Saturday morning coming off a loss to Islip that officially eliminated us from the playoffs, but they came out with everything they had,” Caltagirone said. “Westhampton is very good. They’re stingy on defense, so getting them in foul trouble was big, and to be able to come up with some loose ball rebounds.”

Senior forward and captain Toni Ann Velazquez scores. Photo by Bill Landon
Senior forward and captain Toni Ann Velazquez scores. Photo by Bill Landon

Gabel was busy at the charity stripe netting both in her overtime appearance at the line, to help her team take a 43-41 lead with 2:47 left to play. Westhampton answered back with two points from the line, and with 43 seconds remaining, Gabel swished two more free throws to help her team retake the lead, 45-43. The Hurricanes tried to counter with their appearance at the charity stripe, but split  the attempts, to make it a one-point game.

Again, Gabel went to the line with two attempts, but missed her mark on one, pushing her team ahead 46-44 with 17.3 seconds on the clock.

Desperate to score in the final seconds, Westhampton tried to force a shot and ended up drawing a foul as the clock expired. Westhampton senior Madison Skala matter-of-factly sank both of her shots to retie the game at 46-46, forcing a second overtime period.

Two of Westhampton’s starters fouled out to give Comsewogue an edge, but the Warriors had three players with four fouls.

At the 1:36 mark of the next four minutes, Westhampton edged ahead 50-48 as the clock wound down to 15 seconds. Comsewogue’s final shot from the outside missed, but senior captain and forward Toni Ann Velazquez was right there with the putback to kept the Warriors alive for a final overtime session.

“I think we played a hell of a game,” Velazquez said. “Although we didn’t win, I think it was a great way to end our last home game. That our defense was able to hold them down and not foul as much as they did was very important.”

Gabel opened the third overtime period with another pair of free throws for a 52-50 advantage, but Westhampton answered with a pair of field goals to retake the lead, 54-52. Comsewogue freshman guard Julianna Watson took matters into her own hands as she muscled her way to the rim from the paint for a field goal, but the Hurricanes tacked on a three-point play to pull ahead 57-54 with 27 seconds left in the third overtime period.

Sophomore guard Nora Gabel hits her game-tying trifecta. Photo by Bill Landon
Sophomore guard Nora Gabel hits her game-tying trifecta. Photo by Bill Landon

As the clock wound down to eight seconds, Gabel drained a three-pointer to tie the game, and Westhampton immediately called for a timeout.

“I don’t even know what set that up,” Gabel said. “It’s not a set play, but it was pretty hectic out there, so I dribbled over and found an open shot. We needed three to tie it up, so I went for it, and luckily, it went in.”

In the little time remaining, the Hurricanes inbounded the ball and threw deep to the paint, finding the net as the buzzer blared to win the game 59-57. Comsewogue fell to 3-8 in League V, while Westhampton improved to 7-4.

“We had a couple of miscues early that cost us some opportunities early in the game,” Caltagirone said. “But it was a great game, a clutch shot by Nora for that three, so it was a total team effort.”

Behind scoring leaders Gabel and Collins, Velazquez finished with eight points while Colocho netted five. Watson and Turner rounded out the scoring banking two points each.

Comsewogue will close its season on the road on Feb. 8 against Sayville. Tipoff is at 4 p.m.