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Mount Sinai

By Bill Landon

The Tornadoes are already beginning to blow through the bracket.

The eyes of the storm, seniors Alex Merhige and Kyle Stolba, racked up 29 points each as the No. 1-seeded Harborfields boys’ basketball team, which totaled a lucky 13 3-pointers in the win, knocked out No. 8 Mount Sinai, 86-53, in the Class A quarterfinals Feb. 17.

Fresh off a thrilling overtime win the night before, a 70-63 win over No. 9 Comsewogue, the Mustangs’ season comes to an abrupt end.

From opening tipoff, the game was never in question. The Tornadoes flexed their muscles, racking up point after point — draining six 3-pointers in the first quarter alone.

Merhige, who finished the game with 12 rebounds and five blocks, wowed the crowd with his second dunk of the game in the second stanza. Stolba, who had a triple double with 10 assists and 10 rebounds, hit his fourth trey of the game, and the Tornadoes took a 30-point lead into the halftime break, 56-26.

“They’re always good competitors — they work hard even when they got down in the first quarter they never gave up on us,” Stolba said of Mount Sinai. “The coach had to wake us up a little in the second just to keep going, we caught fire and I think we showed why we’re the No. 1 seed.”

Stolba started the scoring for the second half with a pair of field goals, senior Joe Kelly hit a 3-pointer and Merhige drained his fourth trey for a 73-37 advantage heading into the final eight minutes of play.

“We played great — we moved the ball really well, our defense in the first half was unbelievable,” Merhige said. “We only missed like two three’s in the first half, but our next game definitely won’t be so easy.”

Harborfields head coach John Tampori pulled his starters and the bench took the team to the finish line.

Senior David Maitre answered the call with a field goal and a shot from beyond the arc to help put the win in the record book.

Mount Sinai head coach Ryan McNeely said he was proud to see his boys make it as far as they did.

“Some people counted us out when we were 3-6 in the league, but then we won five out of six before this game,” he said. “We knew they were an excellent team and they shot the ball much better than we saw watching tape, but I’m very proud of our guys in how we finished the season.”

Senior Harrison Bak led Mount Sinai with 13 points, and classmate Nick Rose followed close behind with 11.

Senior Shane Wagner made a pair of field goals and three triples to place him second in scoring behind Stolba and Merhige with 13 points.

Harborfields head coach John Tampori said he liked what he saw from his team, and hopes that the boys can keep up the good work.

“Mount Sinai is well coached and they’re a scrappy team that put forth a great effort,” he said. “We’re not that much better than they are, it’s just that tonight was our night. They had a tough overtime win last night and to come here the next day and played us hard and that’s a credit to them.”

Harborfields will play No. 5 Wyandanch at home Feb. 21 at 5 p.m. Wagner said if his team plays like it did against Mount Sinai, they’ll be ready.

“They came out hot, but we came out hotter,” Wagner said of Mount Sinai. “We were hitting shots. I don’t think we missed a shot in the first quarter, maybe a 3-pointer. For the next round, we are definitely mentally ready, and we’re physically ready.”

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Wildcats' 44-33 win earns them share of League VI title

 

By Bill Landon

Shoreham-Wading River was hungry for revenge, and junior Erin Triandafils used it to feed a six-point scoring streak off the bench in the fourth quarter, which led to a 44-33 Wildcats win over previously undefeated Mount Sinai.

“Mount Sinai is a good rival in every sport, and we finally beat them,” Triandafils said. “It was definitely very exciting. We were hoping to play great defense, get some baskets and just play our game.”

Licking their wounds from their only League VI loss of the season, the Wildcats wanted to avenge the Jan. 17 defeat in front of their home crowd Feb. 11.

Shoreham-Wading River head coach Adam Lievre said he suspected the last game of the regular season would be a key matchup between both teams, and have it set the tone for the postseason.

“Going into the year, we both would’ve figured that there was a good chance this was how it was going to go down,” Lievre said. “We knew who they lost due to graduation, but we brought everybody back, so we expected to be fighting for the top spot.”

Mount Sinai was protecting a 17-0 season and 13-0 league record, but the Mustangs couldn’t overcome its rival as the lead began to slip away in the second half.

Shoreham-Wading River’s defense had held Mount Sinai senior Victoria Johnson scoreless until she found the rim three times in the third quarter. Classmate Veronica Venezia scored from the paint, sophomore Holly McNair banked two points and so did sophomore Gabriella Sartori, as the Mustangs edged ahead 27-22 with just over four minutes left.

Shoreham-Wading River tied the game at 29-29, and senior Lindsey McKenna hit a buzzer-beater that gave her team the edge heading into the final eight minutes of play.

Senior Maria Smith said her team had been practicing for weeks with the matchup against Mount Sinai in mind.

“We just wanted revenge, and we finally got it,” Smith said. “I knew that we had momentum and we went into the huddle [and said] we have to keep this [lead]. We can’t lose it.”

That’s when Triandafils scored three straight times.

“Erin [Triandafils], she’s been groomed to play behind Maria [Smith], because they’re very similar in what they’re capable of doing,” Lievre said. “We took a chance and gave her a couple of minutes, and it worked out really well.”

Junior Mikayla Dwyer led Shoreham-Wading River with 10 points, Smith scored eight and seniors Mackenzie Zajac and Sophie Triandafils, Erin’s older sister, each added seven points.

Venezia was atop the scoreboard for Mount Sinai with eight points, Johnson was right behind with seven and McNair, Sartori and sophomore Brooke Cergol rounded out the scoring with six points each..

With the loss, Mount Sinai shares the league title with Shoreham-Wading River.

“At certain times of the season you’re going to have adversity, and this is something we’ll be dealing with when it comes to the playoffs,” Mount Sinai head coach Michael Pappalardo said. “I thought this was a good game for us. I looked at this game as one with a playoff atmosphere. Adversity makes us better.”

Not-for-profit asks community members to join committee

Heritage Trust President Lori Baldassare, below, talks to community members about various elements that could be incorporated in a splash pad, like the one shown above. Image from Heritage Trust

Heritage Park in Mount Sinai has been a safe place to walk, play soccer, hit the playground, attend a carnival and fly a kite. Now, the not-for-profit Heritage Trust is looking to add another summer attraction to keep visitors coming in the hotter months: a splash pad.

The trust’s board of directors held a meeting Feb. 4 to ask not only for community input, but community involvement and help in implementing the idea.

Lori Baldissare speaks during the meeting. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“We need people to come back and help us take this to the next stage,” trust president Lori Baldassare said. “We do all of these things, but think about what we could do if we had more people.”

The almost 50 attendees that packed the Heritage Center were in agreement they’d like to see the idea come to fruition.

“It should be a place where kids play and splash around, but kids could also discover,” one father said.

In a slideshow presentation, Baldassare showed various images of what the splash pad, which will be built next to the playground, could look like — vertical water features like mushroom or tree showers, a spray pool, misters, grills that shoot water straight up from the ground or some combination of those ideas.

Most community members in attendance agreed whatever was decided on should maintain the multi-generational feel of the park, making it a place where kids could play and pretend they’re discovering, say, a lake, but also a place adults can walk past and marvel at.

“I like the kiddie ideas where they can run and chase the water, but then there’s people like me who are seniors and like more ‘adult’ water parks — parts of it where it mists you,” said Deirdre Dubato, a member of the Mount Sinai Civic Association who was also a founding member of the trust. “I like the dual idea and a nature element.”

“I like the kiddie ideas where they can run and chase the water, but then there’s people like me who are seniors and like more ‘adult’ water parks — parts of it where it mists you.”

—Deidre Dubato

This splash pad was in the original master plan, which was submitted to the town not too long after the trust was established in 2000, but being that the not-for-profit runs almost solely on donations, raising money has taken time. The trust first raised $1.7 million to build the center in 2007, put up the playground in 2008 and added a putting green last year, which was donated by a local community member. Funds are generated from events, like the spring and fall carnivals, Easter egg hunt, Halloween festival and Breakfast with Santa. Other ideas are also currently in the works, like a plant maze, skating rink and amphitheater, and a pollination garden is set to open this year.

“We grow with the community as wants and needs change,” Baldassare said.

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) was in attendance, and urged residents to help in any way they can. The splash pad will cost roughly between $100,000 and $125,000 depending on how elaborate the design is. The trust only has about $10,000 in reserves, so fundraising will be a big part of the splash pad committee’s task, besides formulating a design and finding the right builders.

“It doesn’t matter how small a contribution it is, anything given is helpful,” Anker said. “Be it money, resources, knowledge.”

To give feedback and ideas, join a committee or donate, interested people should email contact@heritagetrustmail.org.

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Mustangs will travel to Shoreham-Wading River Feb. 9 for 6 p.m. game

By Bill Landon

On the first day of practice before the start of the season, Mount Sinai senior Cristina Gulli said her team set goals to make it to the playoffs and go undefeated on the way there. And the girls’ basketball team is making that happen.

“We’ve worked very hard every day, so it’s amazing that we’re undefeated so far,” Gulli said. “And that hard work in practice has paid off.”

“We were definitely hoping for this level of success at the beginning of the season, but we knew it wasn’t going to come without a lot of hard work.”

—Victoria Johnson

Practice makes perfect, and the Mustangs remained perfect when the team made short work of visiting Southampton Feb. 6, defeating the Mariners 73-25. The win keeps the team at the top of the League VI leaderboard at 13-0 and gives Mount Sinai at least a share of the league title.

After the pregame ceremonies that acknowledged the accomplishments of the eight seniors on the squad, the Mustangs got to work, and after eight minutes of play, the final outcome was clear.

Mount Sinai took a 36-14 advantage into the halftime break.

Senior Victoria Johnson was at the core of the Mustangs’ offense. She led her team in scoring with 25 points and had six steals. Mount Sinai head coach Michael Pappalardo saw to it that every player got time on the court, and the Mustangs surged ahead 69-21 with the help of those off the bench.

“We were definitely hoping for this level of success at the beginning of the season, but we knew it wasn’t going to come without a lot of hard work,” Johnson said. “We’ve put the time in, a lot of time we went over our goals for the season and we worked on something different in every practice.”

Senior Veronica Venezia scored 14 points as she battled in the paint most of the game, something she’s done all season long. She also finished with 16 rebounds and six assists.

“It definitely feels great staying undefeated,” she said. “Me and Vic have been playing together since eighth grade — we gained confidence in every game.”

“We all bring positive influences, and it’s just great to share this wonderful occasion together.”

—Nicole Hurowitz

Senior guard Nicole Hurowitz said she’s glad to be a part of a special group of players— something she said she’ll remember for years to come.

“We help each other out and it’s pretty amazing being here with all these girls,” she said. “We all bring positive influences, and it’s just great to share this wonderful occasion together.”

Mount Sinai’s last win topped its program-best 15 wins in 2010, where the Mustangs ended with a 15-3 record and won the league title. The team is 17-0 overall with one game remaining in the regular season.

There is nothing regular about the final game before postseason play though, as the Mustangs will face their greatest threat to their flawless record: Shoreham Wading River.

During the last matchup on Jan. 17, Mount Sinai was able to hold on to a six-point lead — its narrowest margin of victory all year — to win 61-55.

Pappalardo understands the magnitude of the final game of regular season — on the road against the toughest challenger this year Feb. 9 at 6 p.m.

“We’re focused on Shoreham — they’re a great team, they have an awesome coach, they have great athletes ,” he said. “The sky’s the limit and I’m just happy for the girls. It took a long time and we’re finally here.”

Reverend Richard Graugh on his 12th medical mission to Honduras. Photo from Graugh

By Alex Petroski

For a dozen years, a pastor from First Presbyterian Church of Port Jefferson has been making an annual trip to Honduras to provide people of all ages with desperately needed medical care.

Reverend Richard Graugh, a Mount Sinai native who has been at First Presbyterian since 2007, first joined a small group of doctors from across North America in making a trip to the third-world country 12 years ago.

Honduran women prepare food for physicians and those waiting to be seen by doctors. Photo from Richard Graugh

In the years since its inception, the mission has expanded to include the establishment of a nonprofit organization, and plans to construct a permanent medical clinic in Honduras now exist.

Belle Terre resident Jackie Gernaey, who has made the trip once before, attended the last visit to Honduras, from Dec. 31, 2016, to Jan. 10.

“It ends up turning into a giant village celebration when we show up,” Graugh said. “It’s not really a party, but they all get dressed up; they’re cooking food like pre-gaming at a football game.”

Graugh described the circumstances of the group’s annual January trip, which lasts for a week and is funded out of the pockets of the doctors and other volunteers who make the trek. The doctors pack suitcases with medical equipment, medicines, supplies and even crayons and coloring books, to hand out to children while they wait on lines to receive treatment. This year, 18 Americans from across the country joined twice as many Hondurans in setting up shop at the Hospital of San Lorenzo in southern Honduras to administer eye exams to 430 people — most for the removal of cataracts — dental care for more than 600 patients and other medical treatments to the hundreds of villagers. Dental and eye care are of extreme importance to the Honduran people because of a lack of clean water and a blistering hot sun year-round. Cataracts are a common problem for people of all ages.

A Honduran waits to be seen by a physician. Photo from Richard Graugh

Graugh said 12 years ago, it was a small operation started by doctors from Pennsylvania who essentially just asked around to see if anyone was interested in joining.

“We used to go down there and do this, and there would be no real organization behind it apart from people with good intentions and good faith and good skills to help these people,” he said.

A nonprofit organization called Key Humanitarian Initiative for Southern Honduras was established with bases in Virginia and Honduras, as a way to raise more funds for the annual mission. Now, the group is seeking donations and has received a plot of land to establish a permanent medical facility so that groups can make trips to provide care to Hondurans all year.

“Ostensibly, one from North America is astounded by the quality of joy they have in the day that we’re there,” Graugh said of the trips. “I don’t know if they have the joy all of the time, but there is a palpable sense of joy present even though these people live in very poor conditions.”

Despite the joy Graugh said he observes during his time in the country, the mission is far from a happy occurrence for him.

“If I’m totally honest, I always struggle with how important it is to the individual when it happens, but how small of an effect [it is] on the whole grand scale of things,” he said. “Life is hard. Doing this for 12 years, I’ve seen 12-year-olds [turn into] 24-year-olds [who] have two kids of their own. They’re rung out. Life is hard. At the same time they come and they smile.”

Volunteers during their annual medical mission to Honduras. Photo from Richard Graugh

He said beginning and continuing this mission has opened his eyes.

“If you’ve never been to the developing world, there’s a real straightening out of one’s priorities,” he said. “When you come back and we’re all so consumed with so many things and so busy it’s like, ‘did you have food today?’”

Melvin Tejada, one of the founders of KHISH who lives in Honduras, said in an email what the missions mean to the people of Honduras and the group’s mission to provide medical care to people in desperate need.

“[He is] a humble person with a great heart for the poor of my country,” Tejada said of Graugh in an email.

Graugh said he is just glad to be able to help in any way.

“It’s just this real minute part of improvement in their lives,” he said, “but if I can be part of that, it’s enough for me.”

To learn more about KHISH’s cause, to donate or to get involved, visit www.khishprojectvision.com.

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Mount Sinai’s boys’ indoor track and field team after winning the League V title.

By Desirée Keegan

To say a Mount Sinai senior sprinter overcame adversity to help his Mustangs capture a league title would be a colossal understatement.

Just days before the League V championship, Andrew Fiore tore his hip flexor.

The Mount Sinai track and field athlete was sidelined for several days and left his coaches thinking he’d be unable to compete. Come Jan. 22, the day of the competition, Fiore told his coaches he had to run.

“I knew it was a big deal for the whole team, and I didn’t want to let anybody down,” the runner said. “I wanted to help in any way I could, and the best way to do that was to compete.”

Despite the injury, the senior had the best showing of his six-year varsity career. For the first time since joining the team in seventh grade, he broke not one school record but two.

Matthew LaGatta, Andrew Fiore and Anthony Bosio show off their hardware.

Fiore placed first in the 55-meter dash with a time of 6.84 seconds, edging out a 10-year record of 6.87. Soon after, he ran the first leg of the 4×200 relay that took first with a time of 1 minute, 37.79 seconds. The mark also eclipsed another school record that stood for more than a decade.

“To me, it really spoke of his character that regardless of being hurt, there was no way he wasn’t going to run — for himself, for me, for the team,” Mount Sinai head coach Lee Markowitz said. “He’s always been our go-to guy. He’s a team player and he’s a tough kid. He refused to not run. I was blown away.”

Fiore also finished second in the long jump with a leap of 20 feet, 3 inches. His performances helped put his team in a position to win, and the Mustangs took home Mount Sinai’s first indoor League V title in 12 years. Although he did not think about breaking records, he admitted it was an added bonus.

“It’s unreal — seeing my name in the record book is weird, but it’s awesome,” he said. “We were coming into the meet expecting to score points, but we did not expect to score as many as we did, and we even scored points in events that we didn’t expect to place in.”

Fiore’s senior teammates Anthony Bosio, Nick Cesario and Kevin Kelly helped break the 4×200 record. Cesario and Kelly also placed in the top four in the 55-meter dash. Kelly finished second in 6.96 and Cesario took fourth in 6.98.

“We’ve been a young team for a few years, so this season was interesting because we finally had a good core of seniors who really led by example,” Markowitz said. “The interesting thing is that at the league championship meet, every single player stepped up and had their personal best performances of the season. It all came together.”

The head coach highlighted sophomore Kenneth Wei, who took home the only other first-place finish for the team, finishing the 55 hurdles in 8.31.

The interesting thing is that at the league championship meet, every single player stepped up and had their personal best performances of the season. It all came together.”

—Lee Markowitz

“He is a very talented high hurdler and is also a gifted high jumper,” Markowitz said. “He really stepped it up with his effort.”

Mount Sinai, which finished with 105 points, almost doubled second-place Southampton’s score of 56.

Markowitz said although Mount Sinai never goes into the meet expecting to be a contender, he and his assistant coach Eric Giorlando, who he said the team would not have won the title without, realized the Mustangs had depth unlike they’d seen in past years.

Markowitz shared his pre-meet message to the team.

“These guys worked very hard, and some of them have been working for it for years,” he said. “I told them before the meet in my pregame speech that if we win, and no guarantees, I hope that a win would teach them that hard work pays off. And it certainly did. As their coach, it makes me so incredibly proud to see them come together, give their hearts, give it everything they had and come out on top.”

Fiore said although the magnitude of what occurred during the meet did not hit him until receiving praise the next day at school, he’s glad he made the decision to compete.

“It was a little nerve-racking coming in injured, and we want to make sure everyone remains healthy because we’re looking to win a league title in spring, too, but it was definitely worth it,” he said. “We all relied on each other to win, and my coaches have been so supportive. This sport helps you in other ways than simply athletics, and it’s made me a better person. This experience has meant a lot to me.”

The big guns brought it home for Mount Sinai.

John Parente won by a major decision, 12-0, at 195 pounds, and Bobby Christ edged his opponent, 4-3, in the finals to propel Mount Sinai to a second-place finish behind Half Hollow Hills West at the Bob Armstrong wrestling tournament at Port Jefferson Jan. 21.

“I told them if you want to wrestle in the county tournament this is the last time to show us what you’ve got,” Mount Sinai head coach Matt Armstrong, who is also Bob’s son, said he told his team. “A freshman that just came up, Adam Shata, had a big win at 160 pound with a solid pin, so we have some freshmen that are really stepping up.”

Jahvan Brown at 138 pounds and Neil Esposito at 145 pounds, made some noise and, according to Armstrong, are wrestling well for this time of year despite their inexperience. Although neither made it to the finals, four other Mustangs did. The team had nine place in total.

“We’re turning it around here toward the end of the season.”

—Robert Alberti

Northport finished with 168 points, just behind Mount Sinai, which finished with 174.

Unlike the Mustangs, the Tigers brought it home in the finals, as all three representing the blue-and-gold took home tournament titles.

“We’re turning it around here toward the end of the season,” Northport head coach Robert Alberti said. Seven of his other wrestlers placed.

Junior Jake Borland, a 113-pounder, is currently ranked sixth in the county in his weight class. He topped Mount Sinai’s Matt Campo, 9-2, who is a returning county champion.

“We expect him to win every time he goes out,” Alberti said of his grappler. “It was a good test for him leading up to counties.”

Borland placed third in the Armstrong tournament last year, and brought his A-game this time around. He won his first match with a pin, and the next two by technical falls.

“I feel confident scoring points,” he said, adding that he knew he had to have a strong mentality and wrestle smart to win in the finals, using his fireman’s carry, duck under and high crotch to help him gain points.

Borland said he can see improvements in his game from last season.

“I got better at getting out on bottom, because last year I struggled with that,” he said. “Now I get right up. Right after [Campo] took me down I got out and took a shot, and I got him right to his back and scored. I got two for a takedown and three for back points and from there I started scoring.”

“[Kenny Cracchiola] wants to make an impact and he’s really done it. He’s beaten some really good guys and overall, matchup-to-matchup, he continues to be a dominant wrestler.”

—Garry Schnettler

At 132 pounds, junior Chris Esposito clinched the championship title with a 9-2 decision over Ward Melville’s Rafael Lievano, who is currently ranked third in the county. Esposito beat his opponent last weekend as well.

“That was a good statement for Chris to come out and beat the kid for a second time in a row,” Alberti said. “He’s showing the county that he’s here to wrestle, and he’s not going to be happy without winning.”

Esposito was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler after recording the most pins in the least amount of time. He pinned his first opponent in 20 seconds, his second in 59 and his third in 1:30, before sizing up his final foe. He said he came into the match knowing what he needed to do, and he wanted to prove that his win last weekend wasn’t a fluke.

“I knew the first time I wrestled him I didn’t wrestle as good as I could,” Esposito said. “Mentally, every time I go out to a match I’m calm, no matter what. I always want to score first, but even if I get scored on I never lose it; I remain calm and keep working.”

Billy Shaw was the final champion for Northport, who won 6-5 over Mount Sinai’s Joe Goodrich at 152 pounds. It was the grappler’s first tournament win.

“He had a tough match at North Babylon on Friday wrestling the No. 1-ranked kid in the county — he got beat up a little bit,” Alberti said. ”So for him to come out the next day and win his first tournament as a varsity wrestler is good for him. For him to turn around is a testament to his hard work.”

Ward Melville finished fourth with 136 points. In a unique and rare scenario, Kenny Cracchiola beat teammate Richie Munoz by a technical fall, 16-0.

Cracchiola went 4-0 on the day, winning three of his matches by technical falls and the other by a pin.

“I shoot single legs to take them down and on top I do a variety of different tilts for back points, which rack up points for me pretty quickly,” he said.

“Even before I step on the mat I’m always focused on wrestling, nothing else distracts me.”

—Vin Miceli

Unfortunately, he had to use these moves against his teammate, but he said he liked seeing two Patriots make it to the finals in the same weight class.

Port Jefferson followed in fifth place with 126.5 points, and sent seven to the podium.

Vin Miceli edged Centereach’s Luis Fernandez, 6-4, and was named the Champion of Champions. He had two pins as he battled his way through the bracket.

He said he focused to be able to bring home the gold.

“Even before I step on the mat I’m always focused on wrestling, nothing else distracts me,” he said. “I put in a lot of work in the off-season, so it really shows how much you can get out of the work you put in.”

Joey Evangelista edged Half Hollow Hills West’s Joe Costa, 3-0, for his title at 145 pounds. He pinned his first three opponents, but said his finals match was tough.

“My coaches have preached mentality is everything, so I’ve been working on strengthening that,” he said.

According to head coach Mike Maletta, the junior has been a finalist in every tournament this season, and won two.

“As long as they both stay aggressive and take smart shots and pushing the pace, they’re going to be real successful in three weeks when they’re up in Albany,” Maletta said of the possibility of the Royals competing for state titles. “The excitement is that some guys are starting to exceed expectations.”

Centereach finished in seventh with 93 points. Jett Tancsik outscored his Half Hollow Hills West opponent 9-4, for the 160-pound championship title.

Centereach head coach Ray Bruno said he was pleased with his team’s performance. He said the tournament is a good tune up to get ready for the Cougars’ matches in the League III tournament.

“This is probably the 10th year for this tournament and I appreciate them doing it keeping my dad’s memory alive.”

— Matt Armstrong

Rounding out the scorers in the top 9 were No. 8 Harborfields with 88 points, and Comsewogue with 39.

According to Matt Armstrong, his father coached at Port Jefferson from 1969 to 1990, where they were league champions for eight years and won the New York State championship cup in 1986.

“They had some very successful teams here at the time,” he said. “It’s great to come back here as I see a lot of people I haven’t seen in a long time. Many of the kid’s parents wrestled for my dad. This is probably the 10th year for this tournament and I appreciate them doing it keeping my dad’s memory alive, it’s Mike Maletta who keeps it going, and he does a great job.”

Borland said his Northport team has exceeded his expectations, and he’s looking forward to rounding out the season with the final dual meet of the season Jan. 27 at Smithtown West at 6:45 p.m., before heading to Syosset for the Battle of the Belt tournament the next day.

“Coming into this year I thought we were going to be absolutely terrible,” he said. “I thought we were going to have three good kids and we were going to be that team that gets beat up on, but I realized we have a few freshmen that are going to make very good wrestlers. We’re a young team, but we’re doing damage.”

Bill Landon contributed reporting

Thieves stole debit card and pin information from a Mount Sinai home

Kirby Cineas and Kareen Shepherd, both of Brooklyn, were arrested and charged with grand larceny after the pair removed mail containing a debit card and pin number from a Mount Sinai mailbox. Photos from SCPD

Suffolk County Police Identity Theft Section detectives and the United States Postal Inspection Service today arrested two Brooklyn men for stealing financial information from a Mount Sinai resident’s mailbox.

Inspectors from The U.S. Postal Inspection Service received information regarding an identity theft ring operating throughout the East Coast, targeting victims in the Mount Sinai area. Postal inspectors were able to identify potential targets and contacted the Suffolk County Police Identity Theft Unit. Officials conducted joint surveillance in four locations. As a result of this investigation, two men,  Kirby Cineas and Kareem Shepherd, both of Brooklyn, were arrested when the pair removed mail containing a debit card and pin number from a victim’s mailbox, Jan. 23 at approximately 1:15 p.m.

Cineas, 31, and Shepherd, 28, were charged with fourthdegree grand larceny and petit larceny. Shepherd was also charged with five counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument for possessing multiple forged credit and debit cards.

Cineas and Shepherd are being held at the Sixth Precinct and are scheduled to be arraigned today at First District Court in Central Islip.

The investigation is ongoing.

Isabella Panag, Kelly Wang, Zekey Huang, Snigdha Roy, and Mount Sinai Middle School Principal Peter Pramataris during the board of education meeting, where certificated were presented to winners and runner-ups of the district-wide spelling bee. Photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

Two Mount Sinai students, sixth grader Zekey Huang and fourth grader Carrie Wang, will represent the district in the Long Island Regional Scripps Spelling Bee at Hofstra University next month. The two spelled their way to victory in building-wide competitions held at the middle school and elementary school, which were judged by administrators and members of the English faculty.

Last week, at the district’s board of education meeting at Mount Sinai Middle School, students from both buildings, grades one through eight, who participated in the annual spelling bee in December, were presented with certificates of recognition on behalf of the board.

“As a former athlete and former teacher, I love academic competition and I’m really just so proud of all the participants,” Mount Sinai Middle School Principal Peter Pramataris said. “They participated [in the spelling bee] with class, and the excitement they bring to the building is great.”

Among the four middle school finalists were seventh graders Isabella Panang and Kelly Wang, who tied for third place; seventh grader Snigdha Roy, who, according to the principal, had been in a “fierce, back and forth battle” with Huang during the competition, won second place; and 11-year-old Zekey, who ultimately took first place by spelling “flammable.”

“They participated [in the spelling bee] with class, and the excitement they bring to the building is great.”

— Peter Pramataris

This is the second time Zekey, who said he’s “happy and really excited,” will represent Mount Sinai at Hofstra, having competed after winning the spelling bee as a fourth grader. He and Carrie will be taking a written test Feb. 5 and, assuming they pass, will be competing in the traditional oral portion on the stage of John Cranford Adams Playhouse on Feb 12, with the hopes of making it to the National Scripps Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. during the spring.

“We’re very proud of him,” Zekey’s father, Edward, said. “He has accomplished a lot in the elementary and middle school, and we’re very thankful for the opportunity that the school gave us.”

Speaking about Carrie, Mount Sinai Elementary School Principal John Gentilcore said the fourth grader is poised, beyond her years and is preparing to compete on a daily basis.

“When she stops me in the hallway, she gives me a word to spell, and when I stop her in the hallway, I give her a word to spell,” Gentilcore said in a phone interview. “It’s nice to see her excitement shine through and [we’re] very excited for her.”

The principal said during the spelling bee, the 9-year-old and her fourth grade co-champs quickly made their way through the fourth grade list of words, ending up with words at the eighth grade level in the final round. In terms of reaching the finals in Washington, Gentilcore said he’s knocking on wood.

“Typically,” he said, “one of the older students will win, but anything can happen.”

Mount Sinai Harbor will be a safer place as a result of jetty reconstruction. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Suffolk County Police officers and firefighters from the Mount Sinai Fire Department rescued three hunters after their boat capsized in Mount Sinai Harbor the morning of Jan. 22.

James Knipe and his son, also named James, along with Kendrick Pisano, were duck hunting in a boat in Mount Sinai Harbor when their vessel took on water and overturned. After the three entered the water, they clung to the overturned boat and the elder Knipe, 47, called 911 on his cell phone.

Suffolk Police notified the United States Coast Guard and the Mount Sinai Fire Department. When Sixth Precinct officers arrived on scene, they observed all three clinging to the overturned boat and holding onto life jackets. Members of the Mount Sinai Fire Department launched an inflatable vessel and rescued the younger Knipe, 17, and Pisano, 16, from the water. Suffolk Police Marine Bureau Officers John Castorf and Christopher DeFeo, aboard Marine November, pulled James Knipe from the water.

All three victims were brought to the boat ramp and transported to local hospitals for treatment of exposure and hypothermia. Pisano, of Miller Place, was taken to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson and the Knipes, of Middle Island, were transported to Stony Brook University Hospital.

Marine Bureau officers recovered and secured the vessel, the victims’ belongings and three shotguns from the harbor.

The water temperature at the time of the incident was approximately 45 degrees. The Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau reminds boaters and hunters that New York State Law requires that personal flotation devices be worn at all times on vessels less than 21 feet in length, from November 1 to May 1.

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