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Kingsmen

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Tiffany Slicklein leaps up to the rim. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Kingsmen are a powerhouse full of offensive threats — and as has been the case all season, senior Tiffany Slicklein and junior Sam Schultz stole the show this week.

The dynamic duo scored 20 points each in a 74-54 win over East Islip Jan. 24. Kings Park girls’ basketball head coach Tom Edmundson said the victory was just what the team needed after a pause in performance last week.

Sam Schultz carries the ball into East Islip’s zone. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“It was tough,” the coach said of the two games against Hauppauge and Bellport, the first resulting in a loss and the second a close-call win. “We were talking about picking up the intensity, picking up the pace and coming out and playing well, and I think we did. I was telling the girls they need to build off this. We’re kind of right there on the doorsteps, so we need to start playing our best basketball. This was a pretty good example of that.”

The team has five more games before playoffs start. The next matchup will be a home contest against a tough Half Hollow Hills West team. When the Kingsmen saw their opponent last, Jan. 3, they pulled away with a close 63-60 win.

“This is definitely a confidence booster” Schultz said, who added eight rebounds and four assists. “Everyone got on the board today, everyone was taking shots, so hopefully that translates to the game against Half Hollow Hills West — we had a tough game against them last time — and to the rest of the season.”

Slicklein and fellow senior Selena Ubriaco traded baskets for the first few Kings Park scores, Slicklein scoring six points and Ubriaco tallying five, before Schultz got the ball rolling. After grabbing a put-back on Slicklein’s missed extra-point attempt at a three-point play, she scored the next two field goals for Kings Park. At the end of the first quarter, the team had a 10-point lead, 21-11.

Taylor Slicklein moves the ball around a defender. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Schultz continued her scoring streak in the second, adding a field goal, three-pointer and free throw, all the first points for Kings Park in the next eight minutes.

“She can knock down the three, she can get to the rim, she makes free throws, she has a complete game,” Edmundson said of his athlete. “She’s the kind of player that will definitely play at the next level, and she’s only a junior. She’s just fantastic.”

But Schultz credits her teammates for her scoring.

“This is my fourth year on the team and I can always count on them to get me the ball if I’m open or communicating on offense, seeing the extra pass, being unselfish — and I think that helped me personally get my shots,” she said. “But it really helps us all as a team.”

Schultz had 17 first-half points, and Slicklein added 14. The pair played in the third quarter, but Edmundson continued to get his bench players time on the court, and had all starters except sophomore Sam Hogan sit in the fourth.

“I’m not looking for one girl to score all the time — although it does happen to work out that way — but our offense is geared toward everybody,” the head coach said. “I think we have a very good team, I think we have one of the best teams in the county and I think we’ll be right there with a chance to win a county championship. I think we have the ability to and I think we have the talent to.”

Slicklein, who scored her 1,000th career point last week, had a double-double in the game with 10 rebounds and also had seven blocks.

Sam Hogan drives to the basket. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“We call her LeBron James because she can do everything,” Edmundson said. “She’s leading the team in rebounds, steals, assists, points, although Sam [Schultz] might have just taken over because they’ve been neck and neck all year, but she does it all. It’s very rare that you have a girl that has the ability to score on every possession, but is also willing to give it up and distribute the way she does.”

Shultz also shares the wealth. Slicklein said she’s enjoyed working alongside her teammate.

“We know exactly where each other are, we’ve been playing together for a while and it’s good to play with a girl who knows how to play like that,” she said. “It’s always fun.”

Slicklein’s twin sister Taylor finished with 11 points and eight rebounds. Hogan had eight points.

Schultz said she’s hoping the total team success can propel the team further into the postseason this year. Tiffany Slicklein said she thinks if any Kings Park team can do it, it’s this one.

“We’re getting ready,” Schultz said of the team preparing for playoffs. “Each and every practice we’re working hard, getting better, working on the little things and it’s all coming full circle — with good timing, too.”

Kings Park's Paul Cooper dribbles down the sideline. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Kings Park’s boys’ basketball team nearly doubled Huntington’s second-half score to remain atop the League IV leaderboard with a 69-49 come-from-behind win Dec.30.

The Kingsmen jumped out to an 8-1 lead before the Blue Devils rattled off 15 unanswered points for a 16-8 advantage at the end of the first quarter. Senior Kevin Lawrence netted nine of those points on four baskets and a free throw.

Kings Park clawed back to trail by five with just under four minutes left, a one-point lead minutes after, and senior guard Paul Cooper helped his team take the lead, 23-22, by banking four of six free-throw attempts on fouls.

Kings Park’s Richie Price scores a layup. Photo by Bill Landon

“In that first half we weren’t communicating, and then guys started to talk and make each other accountable,” Cooper said. “So we got on track, and played good defense and that leads to open shots.”

The teams traded scores, and Huntington junior guard Mekhi Harvey let the clock unwind before scoring a field goal, to give the Blue Devils a 26-25 edge heading into the locker room.

Kings Park opened the second half with a different defensive look. The Kingsmen swarmed with a full-court press as Huntington turned the ball over and paid the price each time. Harvey said he wasn’t surprised.

“We don’t take any team lightly’ and their defense was pretty rough going into the second half,” he said.
Kings Park head coach Christopher Rubé said he told his team they might get outplayed, but told the

Kingsmen to make sure they didn’t get out worked. They took it to heart.

“We increased the intensity in the second half,” Rubé said. “We’re 6-1 but I told them ‘you have to earn it every night,’ and I think they got that message.”

Kings Park senior Jeff Li hit a big three-pointer for his first points of the game to put his team back in front, 28-26, and next was senior Richie Price, who scored his third trey of the game. Junior guard Jason Hartglass followed with his third of the game,as the Kingsmen jumped out to a 45-31 lead, and Price struck again from three-point land to put his team out front 48-31.

“When you’re in the zone you’re not thinking about your shot, you’re just letting the game come to you,” Price said. “So when the ball comes to me, I’m not thinking about it, I’m just shooting.”

Kings Park sophomore Andrew Bianco opened the scoring for the final quarter with a three-point play for a 53-35 lead. And Price followed swishing his fifth three-pointer.

Huntingotn’s Kevin Lawrence scores on a rebound. Photo by Bill Landon

Price was splitting time with Liam Thompson before an injury against East Islip the game prior sidelined Thompson. Rubé said he was proud of Price, and happy for his showing. He led the team with 17 points.

“He played great defensively, he had  great energy, played hard on our press, and that spilled over to his offensive game,” he said. “He did a great job.”

Hartglass, who scored 15 points, let one fly from the left corner while getting knocked to the court by a defender, and saw his shot make it while sitting on the floor. Matter-of-factly, he made it a four-point play from the free-throw line.

“We definitely tightened up especially with communication,” Price said. “Not only did we play harder in the second half, we played smarter.”

Huntington had no answer.

“I would say we got more confident as a team,” Huntington junior Michael Abbondandelo said, despite head coach Brian Carey pulling his starters. “We started driving to the hole more and definitely got more rebounds. Our bench definitely earned that — they needed to go in at that point — it was right to put them in.”

With the win Kings Park improves to 7-1 overall and 3-0 in league play. The Kingsmen will face Half Hollow Hills West Jan. 3 at home at 5:45 p.m.

Harvey topped the scoring chart for the Blue Devils with 17 and Lawrence tacked on 14.

With the loss Huntington drops to 2-6 overall and  1-2 in the league and plays West Islip Jan. 3 at home at 5:45 p.m.

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The Kings Park cheerleading team leaps into the air during the Small School Division I competition. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Kings Park’s cheerleading squad has been battling since opening day, when seven of the team members dropped out. And now the girls are struggling to stay healthy.

The team took to the mat, competing for the top spot in Small School Division I against 10 other teams Dec. 18 at Comsewogue High School, and even with two members sidelined, the girls were able to stay solid through the two-and-a-half-minute performance in front of a near-capacity crowd.

The Kings Park cheerleading team performs different stunts while getting the crowd involved in the cheering during the Small School Division I competition. Photo by Bill Landon

What has made matters more difficult is getting used to the differences between the Long Island Cheerleading Association and Section XI rule book and scoring sheet, since cheerleading has been recognized as a sport.

“We had to change our routines and it’s a drastic change,” said Kings Park head coach Jennifer Ford. “Section XI caused us to fundamentally change how we do it.”

Kings Park senior Alyssa Ambrosia, a two-year varsity starter, said she’s only known the new scoring system, so for her, that’s an advantage.

“We’ve had to overcome a lot this season,” she said. “We were strong in stunting, but I think we can all improve on our tumbling.”

The Kingsmen finished outside the Top 5, but four-year veteran Jamie Barbarino sees nothing but prospect.

“I know that every single person on our team has potential,” she said. “We can be really, really good out there on the mat, but we need to get better with our [end of the routine] pyramid.”

Senior Olivia Nicoletti has been cheering since ninth grade, and has seen the difference between the two scoring methods.

“You have to do certain types of jumps, certain tumbling, and you do stunts differently,” Nicoletti said. “All the points are awarded differently in individual sections, so it’s much harder. We had some challenges today, [another] one of our girls got hurt, so we had to [animate] one stunt.”

Kings Park looks to put on a better performance once they’re at full strength on Jan. 15 at Mount Sinai High School at 9:15 a.m.

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Jason Hartglass shoots from the paint. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

In his third year as Kings Park boys’ basketball head coach, Christopher Rube looks to turn the corner after two losing seasons, and will rely on his core of returning players to do so.

Co-captain Paul Cooper, a returning All-Conference player brings experience and senior leadership to the court in his fourth year on the varsity team. He is on track to score his 1,000th career point this season.

Paul Cooper leaps up to the rim during practice. Photo by Bill Landon
Paul Cooper leaps up to the rim during practice. Photo by Bill Landon

Rube said that his player is an excellent ball handler who has a nose for the rim. Cooper, who has received two All-County nods while on the football team, is being actively recruited by Division III colleges to play both sports.

“I see a lot of improvement — we were competitive in my freshman year, but the last two years we’ve been rebuilding,” Cooper said. “Everyone’s getting used to the new coach and now everyone is buying in and we should have a good season.”

Rube said the last two years have been steppingstones. The Kingsmen finished 5-10 last year, and 4-11 the year before. Rube indicated his returning players have improved drastically over that time.

“Compared to where we were the last two seasons, we’re at a spot where we should be much more competitive,” he said. “I’m pleased with our efforts defensively — their unselfishness and willingness to pass the ball and find the open man. This year they did more work in the offseason than the previous two years, and they’ve developed a work ethic.”

He’s also looking forward to what co-captain Richie Price will bring to the court.

“This year it’s serious — everyone is invested in the program and no one’s selfish,” said Price, who is a three-year varsity returner. “This season everyone’s focused about the success of the team. Our defense has come a long way, so if we can be a solid defensive team we’re going to be hard to beat.”

Andrew Bianco scores with a jumper. Photo by Bill Landon
Andrew Bianco scores with a jumper. Photo by Bill Landon

Bolstering the core of this year’s squad is returning sophomore Andrew Bianco, who started as a freshman. Rube expects big things from his player.

“He has improved tremendously and will be one of our primary scorers,” the head coach said. “He’s tough around the ball, he can crash the boards and can step out and shoot 3-pointers.”

Bianco agreed with Price that everyone is focused on the greater good of the team.

“We share the ball more and we have good shooting,” Bianco said. “But we’re going to need to work on our plays on offense to be ready for Bellport to open the season [at home, Dec. 20].”

Price agreed with Cooper that the two teams to beat in League IV this season will be Half Hollow Hills West and Deer Park. Bianco sees Babylon as a greater threat than Deer Park, though.

The Kingsmen will host Half Hollow Hills West Jan. 3, travel to Deer Park three days later and return home to face West Babylon Jan. 10.

“They’re at a point where they know that everybody needs to be able to shoot the ball, make the extra pass and work on being more consistent,” Rube said. “We look very good in flashes, but we need to put that together for all 32 minutes of play.”

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Selena Ubriaco races her way between two East Islip players to gain possession. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Kings Park has come back from behind three times this season — and tried to recreate that success for a fourth time against East Islip Sept. 30.

Kayla Homeyer blocks an East Islip pass. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Kayla Homeyer blocks an East Islip pass. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Kingsmen kept pushing in the final minutes down 2-0, and sophomore forward Samantha Hogan made it a one-goal game with 3:41 left to play, but the team couldn’t come up with the equalizer, falling 2-1 to East Islip at home.

“I think we really played as a unit, I don’t think we ever changed our style of play to match theirs or change anything to match them,” senior center defender Kayla Homeyer said. “I think we continued to play the way we wanted to play, and with that, we put up the best fight that we could. Every now and then a call doesn’t go your way — we had a hand ball and an offsides — but we kept our cool, we fought our hardest and for us to score that goal in the last 10 minutes really showed we played that way.”

Sophomore goalkeeper Nicole Scott, who made 10 saves during the game, held off East Islip in the opening minutes, along with her defense — batting the ball away, getting in front of shots and grabbing corner kick send-ins.

A flurry of back-and-forth passes between East Islip players became too hard for Scott to handle though, and with 5:27 left until halftime, Rachel Florenz put one in.

“They work hard and they try to stick together,” Kings Park head coach Bryan LoPalo said. “We have 11 seniors on this team and they showed their leadership and played hard from whistle to whistle.”

Jessica Hoyt tosses the ball into play. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Jessica Hoyt tosses the ball into play. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Early into the second half, East Islip was awarded a penalty kick, and Florenz’s second goal of the game gave her team a distinct advantage. The wind and rain left players slipping and sliding across the muddy field, and that made it difficult for Kings Park to even the score.

“The ball didn’t bounce our way, especially with the weather, but we always have each other’s backs and that’s all that really matters,” senior right and left back Jessica Hoyt said. “We kept composed and stayed calm. We tried to pass it around and play to feet — we don’t like to kick and run, but if we have to we have to.”

Keeping their composure led the Kingsmen to the late goal by Hogan. She races up top, leading the pack toward the box, and knocked her shot into the left corner to cut the deficit.

“We just have to ignore the goal and ignore the conditions, focus in and not let it get to us,” senior forward and center midfielder Emily DaVella said. “Sometimes the little things make a big difference, and we just have to step up faster and try to get to every single ball.”

The Kingsmen pressured in the game’s final minutes, but the ball kept skipping away through the wet grass as the rain continued to come down. East Islip’s dump-and-chase style also made it difficult for Kings Park to keep it in the forward zone.

Samantha Hogan redirects the ball around East Islip defenders. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Samantha Hogan redirects the ball around East Islip defenders. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“We play in a tough league,” LoPalo said. “Every game seems to be tough and every game is a one-goal game, and we had another one here today.”

Homeyer said she was proud to see how her team kept with it, despite being down and despite the weather.

“Playing in the rain is always a little more intense, and I think we matched that intensity and kept things under control,” she said. “We get better and better every day. We just need to play our hardest every game. We need to continue to pull together, play as a unit and work toward the same goal.”

With the loss, Kings Park moves to 8-3-1 overall with a 6-3-1 mark in League IV play, putting the Kingsmen tied with East Islip for the No. 2 spot. Deer Park remains the No. 1 team to beat, going undefeated with a 9-0-1 mark. The team traveled to Half Hollow Hills next, Oct. 5, but results were not available by press time.

As Kings Park moves into the final few games of the season, postseason play is in its sights. But for now, the Kingsmens’ head coach just wants his players to enjoy the ride.

“I just want them to make everlasting memories — I want them to remember this for the rest of their lives,” LoPalo said. “We’ll see what happens from here on out.”

Kingsmen have won all six matchups, 3-0, this season

Carly Esterson opened the first set on a service tare, scoring 10 straight points. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

When you think of girls’ volleyball, you think Kings Park.

The Kingsmen have been a powerhouse for years, and despite losing strong seniors each year, the team continues its winning ways. In the still early season, Kings Park has managed to sweep all five of its opponents leading up to the Sept. 19 matchup against Comsewogue, which was no different.

The Kingsmen invaded Warrior territory, and although Comsewogue came close in the second set, the five-time Long Island champions prevailed, defeating their opponent 25-7, 25-17, 25-6.

Kings Park head coach Ed Manly was happy with the result the team put up despite its much different roster.

“We had a little bit of a different [mix] out there today, so that was an adjustment for our girls,” Manly said. “If you haven’t seen us play before, you wouldn’t know we’ve had a serious adjustment to our lineup.”

Sophomore Carly Esterson set the tone early with an unbroken service rally that put Kings Park out front 11-1. It was the setter’s first varsity start, but you wouldn’t know it, as she settled in scoring point after point.

Kings Park's Lauren Kloos tallies a kill. Photo by Bill Landon
Kings Park’s Lauren Kloos tallies a kill. Photo by Bill Landon

“I don’t really play much, but we were together mentally on the floor,” Esterson said. “We had good communication.”

Comsewogue struggled at the net — having a hard time finding a rhythm — as Kings Park demonstrated why they’ve gone to the New York State quarterfinals four out of the last five years.

Momentum shifted in the next, as Comsewogue closed within three points midway through the second set, trailing 17-14. It would be as close as the team would come though, as Kings Park slammed the door, taking the set 25-17.

Manly pushed deep into his roster throughout the game, and each player on the team saw action.

“Everyone from the first kid on the floor to the last kid on the bench got after it tonight,” he said. “They played hard, they were loud and vocal, so there’s a real sense of family on the court. They feed off of that.”

The Kingsmen turned up the heat in the third set, jumping out to a 13-3 advantage, forcing Comsewogue to call a time out. Looking for the first win of the season, Comsewogue head coach Kevin Parker did not doubt Kings Parks’ power.

Comsewogue's Georgia Alexiou battles at the net. Photo by Bill Landon
Comsewogue’s Georgia Alexiou battles at the net. Photo by Bill Landon

“We knew Kings Park was going to be good — we know their reputation,” Parker said. “But our girls have been putting in a lot of work this year. We’re building, and the hope is to turn this program around.”

Senior outside hitter Lauren Kloos said her teams’ preparation was no different from any other game, and Kings Park put the matter to bed, and dominated the final set, claiming a 25-6 set to sweep the match.

“We faced Comsewogue like we prepare for any [team],” she said. “We put in our practice and we get ready. Our sophomore setter [Carly Esterson] — the way she stepped up — she completely killed it, so to be able to communicate and adapt to a new setter on the court, we did it really well. I don’t think we could’ve done it any better.”

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Ben Resnick tags the Sachem North runner out at second base. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

The Kings Park baseball team had to sweep its remaining five games to even make the playoffs, and did, winning the five games in nine days to achieve a 10-10 record to send the Kingsmen into a postseason Class AA outbracket matchup Saturday afternoon. No. 19 Kings Park traveled to No. 14 Sachem North, and although the game remained close, at 2-0, most of the way, the Kingsmen couldn’t bring its base runners home, and fell 4-0, ending their season.

Chris Kenavan drills the ball to deep right field. Photo by Bill Landon
Chris Kenavan drills the ball to deep right field. Photo by Bill Landon

“I knew they were going to come out swinging,” Kings Park head coach Mike Luzim said of Sachem North. “And in the spot that they needed to, they came up big.”

The Flaming Arrows broke the ice in the bottom of the second inning with a deep shot to right field for a stand-up double that drove in two runs. Kings Park countered by making contact, but its opponent’s defense was able to make the plays to keep Kings Park scoreless.

After a lead-off walk by A.J. Fenton in the top of the fifth, Kings Park threatened when Ben Resnick also drew the walk to represent the tying runs on base. With two outs and two runners on, Jack Feibusch drilled one deep to left center, but Sachem North’s center fielder tracked it down in stride to retire the side.

Kings Park’s Ben Sacks took over the mound the rest of the way, but the Kingsmen’s bats went silent.

A.J. Fenton makes it back to first base safely after a pick-off attempt. Photo by Bill Landon
A.J. Fenton makes it back to first base safely after a pick-off attempt. Photo by Bill Landon

Luzim said he knew it was going to be a tough game, sighting both teams’ similar records.

“We kept them off-balance for a bit, but when we walked two and they hit that double that kind of capped it,” he said, adding that the opposing pitcher was the toughest his team had seen all year.

With runners at the corners, Sachem North smacked in another run to take a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Kingsmen went three up, three down in the top of the sixth, and the Flaming Arrows scored once more in the bottom of the inning to end the scoring.

“They’re a tough team,” Kings Park senior Chris Kenavan said. “We can play better than we did. It’s not the outcome we wanted, but in the end, we made a good run.”

Jack Feibusch makes a play on a hit that dropped into center field. Photo by Bill Landon
Jack Feibusch makes a play on a hit that dropped into center field. Photo by Bill Landon

Sachem North threatened, but got greedy on a single that the team tried to stretch to a double. Kings Park’s Resnick made the tag to throw the sliding runner out at second, to end the inning.

With their backs against the wall, Kings Park took to the plate for the final time. Again, contact wasn’t the problem, but a fly ball to the center fielder followed by a long drive to right field secured the first two outs, and the game ended with an infield pop-up.

Senior pitcher Mike Tully said that he expected his team to hit better, adding that that was the difference-maker in the game. His teammates agreed.

“Our plan coming into the game was whoever made the fewest mistakes would win the game,” Kings Park senior Jake Shickler said. “They’re a tough League II team — we definitely didn’t do our job hitting-wise and we made too many mistakes.”

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No Suffolk County team averaged more than Kings Park’s 69.5 points per game this season.

That offensive success paid off in dividends as the No. 3-seeded Kingsmen finished the regular season 16-2 overall and took a 12-game winning streak into the postseason, where the undefeated League IV champions took down No. 14 Hauppauge and No. 6 Huntington, making their way to the Suffolk County Class AA semifinals at Stony Brook University Sunday afternoon.

Although challenger Commack, the No. 2 seed, was also 18-2 heading into the game, the usual onslaught that had been expected with Kings Park was non-existent on the Seawolves’ home court.

This was because the Cougars valued defense above all else — something that Kings Park head coach Tom Edmundson said was lacking from his team’s game Sunday.

“Our help defense was not what it needed to be and we talked about that all year, really,” he said. “We’ve come a long way from the beginning of the season, and it’s been something we’ve focused on and we’ve focused on, and today we just didn’t put it all together on the defensive side of the ball.”

Commack scored the first six points of the semifinal game before sophomore guard Sam Schultz swished a 3-pointer to cut the lead in half. The Cougars countered with a field goal and two free-throw points to re-extend the lead. Despite a free-throw point by junior guard and forward Taylor Slicklein, Commack grabbed an offensive rebound to pull ahead 12-4, forcing Edmundson to use one of his timeouts to try and regroup.

The pep-talk proved successful, as Schultz scored a layup and a field goal, Slicklein tacked on a 3-pointer and junior guard Selena Ubriaco tallied a trifecta of her own with 3.6 left in the first quarter to help her team pull within five, 19-14, heading into the second stanza.

“I think we definitely didn’t start as strong as we needed to today, and Commack made the most of it — they started as strong as they could and that allowed them to take the lead in the end,” Schultz said. “We fought back, but it wasn’t enough.”

The deficit only grew from there, with Commack taking a 35-23 advantage into the locker room.

“You’ve gotta take your hat off to Commack they played great defense,” Edmundson said. “Jackie DelliSanti dominated. She’s a phenomenal player. We knew we needed to try and slow her down and we were unable to do that, and that was the big difference.”

DelliSanti was the difference-maker, scoring a game-high 22 points.

In the second half, though, Kings Park mounted a strong comeback effort, outscoring its opponent 15-9 in the third quarter, with help from Schultz, Ubriaco, senior guard Kiera Ahern and Taylor Slicklein’s twin sister Tiffany.

Tiffany Slicklein, who averaged 17 points per game, was held to 13, which helped open the lane for Schultz, who finished with a team-high 17 points herself. Still, the sophomore said the team’s junior co-captain is such a dominant player that despite the heavy guarding, Slicklein was able to excel.

“They have to key on her,” Schultz said of Slicklein. “That allowed me to be more open to the point where it’s hard for them to key on two girls, so I think that helped open up some lanes for everybody. But she definitely made really smart choices and passes and never forced any shots, which helped.”

Despite Kings Park’s strong season coming to a close, the head coach said he’s proud of his girls’ accomplishments.

“They battled all year and they came together as a team,” he said. “We have some freshmen and some seniors and the dynamics don’t always work out well, and with this group, it did. They all came together.”

Schultz said she thinks the outcome may have been different had the team learned from its mistakes early on in the game, but is excited about the future of her team, although the loss of senior starter Kiera Ahern will prove difficult.
“If a couple of shots would’ve fell or if we made that extra pass one or two extra times, I think the outcome could’ve been a little different,” Schultz said. “Now that this season is over all you can worry about is next year, so I’m excited. We’ll have probably a little freshman come up and be a starter, and I think only good things for us next year.”

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Kiera Ahern reaches for the ball on a fast break. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The success of the starters is rubbing off on the Kings Park bench.

In the girls’ basketball team’s monster 90-35 win over Eastport-South Manor Tuesday, every single one of the Kingsmen put points on the scoreboard, aiding in the team remaining undefeated with a 10-0 record in League IV. Kings Park is also on an eight-game winning streak.

“I tell the girls I don’t care who’s on the floor whether you’re our best player or a starter or the 12th girl at the bottom of the bench, when you get out there you play hard and these girls did it,” Kings Park head coach Tom Edmundson said. “We didn’t have any girls left off the scoring table. We had 11 3-pointers, two girls who never scored before hit 3-pointers tonight, so it’s great when everyone can contribute the way we did. It was outstanding.”

Kings Park junior guard and forward Tiffany Slicklein scored the first 14 points of her game-high 21 in the first quarter, all of which were the first points for her team. She also finished with 16 rebounds and seven assists.

Tiffany Slicklein muscles her way up to the rim. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Tiffany Slicklein muscles her way up to the rim. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Kingsmen used fast breaks and a full-court press to force turnovers and steal passes, and converted nearly every opportunity into quick points.

“We stress defense all the time,” Slicklein said. “Our defense leads to our offense and that clearly happened today.”

By the end of the first eight minutes, Kings Park jumped out to a whopping 30-11 lead.

“We started the game with our full-court pressure to try to get them off their game, and every time we get a rebound or a steal, we want to go,” Edmundson said. “There’s nothing better than having the ball and scoring within three seconds while the other team may have the ball and it takes them 25 seconds to score.”

Kings Park continued to limit its opponents’ opportunities at a basket while tacking on close to as many points as it did in the first, to take a 51-16 lead into the halftime break.

Also doing a stellar job for the Kingsmen was senior guard Kiera Ahern, who collected 14 points in the first half on two 3-pointers, three field goals and two free throws. Ahern ended the evening with a career-best 20 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

“She’s so smart out there,” Edmundson said of Ahern. “She doesn’t get the recognition a lot of the time because she doesn’t put up big points, but she really in so many ways is the glue to this team. I’m just beyond thrilled that she had a game like this.”

Eastport-South Manor was able to keep up with Kings Park and maintain a quick style of play, but that fizzled out during the second half as the speed wore down the players over time.

After Kings Park held its opponent to three points over the first six minutes of the third quarter, Edmundson dove deeper into his bench to give the other players some time. The Kingsmen used this to their advantage as several girls scored for the first time, and five girls came off the bench — seniors Francesca Timpone and Shannon Donovan with juniors Lauren DeLillo, Toni Labrador and Shannon Savage — all to score 3-pointers.

Selena Ubriaco passes the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Selena Ubriaco passes the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“It’s nice when you know you have support when you’re coming off the floor that someone else is going to step onto the court and step up and make shots,” Slicklein said.

The bench remained on the court for the final eight minutes of the game, and put up 24 points while holding Eastport-South Manor to 12.

“It’s a great time for us to show off our team skills,” Ahern said. “We’re hoping to win the league, so by making this another statement game it’s a great opportunity to show those teams — and those in the other leagues — that we’re a good team and a tough competitor.”

With the girls playing a makeup game on Monday on account of the weather and with Tuesday’s game being the girls’ “coaches vs. cancer” game, there were a lot of distractions, and Edmundson liked that his team was able to remain focused.

“To play the way they did is a testament to their ability,” he said. “We definitely have the talent, the heart and the dedication to make a county run — we just have to go out there and do it.”

For players like Ahern, she used what the night represented as motivation to shine.

“I played in memory of my uncle and a girl who passed away in our town a couple of years ago and a junior varsity coach,” she said. “I was playing for those who died and survived cancer, so it’s a wonderful feeling to be able to play for them.”

Kings Park is three wins above Hauppauge and Half Hollow Hills West, so if the team can continue its winning ways, the Kingsmen should remain in the top spot. But the girls’ goal is to remain undefeated.

“We’re very confident but we don’t want to get too cocky, so we just want to play our best every day and bring our best to every game,” Slicklein said. “If we continue to do that, I think we’re going to like the outcome.”

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By Bill Landon

Just call it the fabulous fifth.

The No. 2 Kings Park girls’ volleyball team defeated No. 1 Westhampton Beach in three straight sets Thursday, 25-23, 25-20 and 25-17, to claim the school’s fifth straight Suffolk County Class A title.

The Kingsmen took seven straight points in the first set, and broke out to a 10-6 lead as both teams continued to trade points until Kings Park was ahead 17-12 at the first time out.

The Hurricanes battled back with several long volleys to close the gap to 20-18, but the Kingsmen rattled off four more points to take a 24-20 advantage. Kings Park looked to put the game away, and did, but not before Kings Park took three more points, to win the first set, 25-23.

“Our team is about coming out and doing what we have to do,” Kings Park junior outside hitter Lauren Kloos said. “We come out with so much excitement, so this win is just amazing for us.”

With the teams tied 7-7 in the second set, Kings Park surged ahead 24-17, but Westhampton Beach scored the next three points to trail 24-20. Again, the Kingsmen found a way to dig out the last point, to win the second set 25-20.

Kings Park sophomore middle hitter Erika Benson said her team has a winning formula.

“I think it’s the passion we have for each other,” she said. “All three matches were close, and they played really well, but in the end we came out stronger.”

Westhampton Beach struggled, and fell behind in the third set 8-2 in a must-win set to stay alive. The Hurricanes would not go quietly though, and battled back to close within four points late in the match.

Kloos finished with 14 kills; senior middle hitter Lauren Kehoe added 12 kills and 16 digs; senior outside hitter Jaclyn Wilton had 12 kills and 16 digs; sophomore libero Meagan Murphy had 25 digs; and senior setter Stephanie Cornwell added 31 assists.

“We communicate really well; Meagan Murphy, Lauren Baxter and Kayla Buell played really great defense,” Kehoe said. “Lauren Kloos and Jaclyn Wilton were swinging great and Stephanie Cornwell was serving really well, so it was just a good performance all around.”

It was the third time the teams faced each other this year, and although Kings Park won the second meeting between the two, the Hurricanes handed Kings Park their only loss in the season in the first game of the year.

Wilton said Westhampton Beach is a much stronger team this season compared to last.

“We lost to them in our first game, we’ve been undefeated in my high school career and that first lost hurt,” Wilton said. “I never knew what that felt like, but since then, I knew that I never wanted to experience that again.”

And so far, they haven’t.

With the win, Kings Park advances to the Long Island championship round.  The team will return to Suffolk County Community College’s Brentwood campus tomorrow, Nov. 14, to face Wantagh at 3 p.m.

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