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Mustangs earn No. 1 seed in Class C postseason bracket, which begins May 23 for Mount Sinai. Comsewogue claims No. 2 seed and begins B qualifier play in semis May 23.

Mount Sinai boys lacrosse team members pile up on Tyler Gatz after he scored a buzzer-beating game-winning goal for sole possession of the Division II title. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Tyler Gatz took home the Division II title for Mount Sinai.

With the Mustangs down 3-2 in the final minutes, the freshman midfielder assisted on classmate Brendon Ventarola’s game-tying shot before scoring the go-ahead goal as the buzzer sounded for a 4-3 home win over Comsewogue May 11.

Mount Sinai’s Tyler Gatz looks to get around Comsewogue’s Karl Lacalandra. Photo by Bill Landon

The game-winning play called for the ball to end up in the stick of senior JoJo Pirreca, but Gatz said he saw an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

“The play was sideways,” the freshman said. “I saw that they over-pursued me, so I put the stick in my left hand, got top side and just let it go.”

Mount Sinai was tied with Islip at 12-1 atop the league leaderboard heading into Friday’s game. Harborfields and Comsewogue were tied for second (10-2), but the Tornadoes took down Islip earlier in the evening (13-7) to leave the Mustangs to battle it out with the Warriors for sole possession.

“Comsewogue played great defense tonight — they did a great job, so I feel fortunate that we were able to get this win,” Mount Sinai head coach Harold Drumm said. “It’s easy when you win 10-1, but [we were] playing a tough team and things [were] not going our way. Our team showed it had a lot of heart, and that’s what tells you if you have a team or not.”

Comsewogue attack Richie Lacalandra gets checked by Mount Sinai’s Matt Ventarola. Photo by Bill Landon

After a scoreless first quarter, Comsewogue senior Anthony Passarella broke the ice, and juniors Chris Wolfe and Sean Kennedy scored next to give the Warriors a 3-0 lead with 4:11 remaining until the halftime break. Known for its stout defense, Comsewogue remained solid until eighth-grader Joseph Spallina’s solo shot rocked the back of the cage to end of the quarter.

Not wanting his age to be paired with inexperience, the team’s scoring leader proved his prowess when he struck again four minutes into the third on an assist from junior Dominic Boscarino to pull his team within one, 3-2.

“When we were down 3-1 we really weren’t moving the ball,” said Spallina, who ranks seventh among all Suffolk scorers with 76 points on 34 goals and 42 assists.

The freshman said his team wanted to take it slow, thinking back to the lone loss of the season, a 10-9 defeat at the hands of Islip April 11, and wanted to redeem that loss by taking sole possession of the division crown. Comsewogue went a man-down on three separate occasions and Mount Sinai was unable to capitalize.

Mount Sinai’s Joseph Spallina drives past Comsewogue defenseman Zach Gagnon. Photo by Bill Landon

The tables turned when Spallina was flagged for an infraction and served a one-minute penalty to close out the third, and his team again went a man-down with under three minutes left in the fourth, but Comsewogue couldn’t find the net.

“We had one devastating loss against a really good team,” Spallina said of the loss to Islip. “So we were thinking, ‘Just make one stop at a time.’”

Mount Sinai gained possession with less than 40 seconds left and moved the ball around the cage to let time tick off, allowing for just one last shot before a looming overtime period, which is when Gatz made his move.

“They play hard, they’re very well-coached,” Drumm said of Comsewogue. “We know they have great athletes on the field and we knew we had to tighten up a little in the crease, and even down 3-1 we [knew we’d have] opportunities on offense. We needed to keep believing, so I just tried to stay the course.”

The Mustangs earn the No. 1 seed with the win. Mount Sinai will host the winner of Thursday’s matchup between No. 4 Shoreham-Wading River and No. 5 Sayville in the Class C semifinals May 23 at 4 p.m. Comsewogue, the No. 2 seed, will compete in the Class B semifinals , hosting the winner of the No. 3 East Islip and No. 6 Half Hollow Hills West game May 23 at 4 p.m.

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Boys track and field team guarantees piece of second straight outdoor league title with win over Southampton. Junior Kenneth Wei breaks two school records.

By Bill Landon

These type of Mustangs like to be pushed.

The Mount Sinai track and field team feeds off the pressure in practice — touting it as one of the main reasons the boys have been able to stay undefeated.

“We just have guys that work hard every day,” Sean Higgins said. “The coaches push us, and push us hard. They push us until we’re great.”

The junior was off to the races in a 102-34 win over visiting Southampton May 2, coming first in the 800-meter run and 1,600, and placing second in the 3,200. He also competed in the 4×400 relay.

His top finish was 5 minutes, 20 seconds in the mile.

“It’s not my best,” he said. “So we’ve got to get back to work and train that much harder.”

Junior Kenneth Wei on the other hand had two bests. He broke the school record in the long jump with 21-10.75 jump and triple jump with a 43-10.5 leap. He also finished first in the 110 high hurdles.

Head coach Lee Markowitz said Wei, who is at the top of his class, is the most coachable athlete he’s ever worked with, and defines what a scholar athlete is.

“Like my coaches say, it’s who wants it more,” Wei said. “It’s the desire to compete — to go up against the best of the best. It’s what drives us to keep going.”

Markowitz said Ryan Wilson is another junior who helps round out a strong, dedicated All-County class. Wilson is noted by his coach for his versatility.

“Ryan is a gifted distance runner who is always willing to help the team,” the coach said. “He excels in both the 400 and 800 events and is always ready to jump into the 1,600 or relay event if it means securing a victory for the team.”

Jack Pilon, one of seven seniors on a roster of nearly 60, said his 5-0 Mustangs benefit greatly from having so many tools in the toolbox.

“We have the depth,” he said. “Our sixth, seventh and eighth milers, they’re the ones out here with us every day doing the same amount of work, so I think that when other teams compete with us it’s difficult to keep up. We’ve got 10 guys that can go under five minutes in the mile — it’s hard to [compete] with that.”

Wilson also flaunted his team’s dedication while backing up his coach’s claim of his thirst for competition.

“Everyone comes to work and they train hard every day — they’re coming for their own reasons, whether it’s to get ready for another sport or to improve their best times,” he said. “We’re all trying to build the best program we’ve ever had. We have a strong program, but we’re also building for the future.”

Mount Sinai, now 5-0, remains atop the League VII leaderboard with one meet remaining. With the win over Southampton, the Mustangs have repeated nabbing indoor and outdoor league titles for the second straight school year. Mount Sinai is currently one win ahead of Elwood-John Glenn (4-1) and faces its rival May 8 at 4 p.m. for sole possession of the crown.

Markowitz said the practice atmosphere is contagious, as old and young push one another to build the future Wilson was talking about.

“It’s the work ethic — there’s zero complaining,” he said. “When they’re successful, it confirms for them that when we work hard, we win. We have a group, particularly of juniors, who if we tell them ‘You’ve got to run through a brick wall,’ they’ll say, ‘Ok.’”

Mount Sinai's Morgan Mitchell races downfield with Comewogue's Mia Fernandes pushing her toward the right sideline. Photo by Desirée Keegan

By Desirée Keegan

The Mustangs chanted in the huddle: “unleash the madness.”

Fueled with fire following its first loss in 21 games, the Mount Sinai girls lacrosse team amped up the intensity to clobber visiting Comsewogue 15-2 April 23.

After being down 6-0 in the first half of a loss to Bayport-Blue Point last Friday, the girls knew they had to come out firing.

Mount Sinai’s Emma Tyrrell passes the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“We realized we can’t take any team lightly,” said junior attack Morgan Mitchell. “We have to play each game like it’s our last one; stay focused and keep our eye on the prize.”

She kept that concentration in the draw circle, flicking the ball toward the sideline instead of up or down the field, so that sophomore midfielder Jenny Markey could scoop it up. Markey boxed out Comsewogue’s Hannah Dorney for crucial minutes of possession that led to two of her three goals in the first five minutes of the game.

“I know I was going against a strong opponent in Hannah Dorney — I had to box her out first so she doesn’t get it, because she’s strong in the circle,” Markey said. “When I boxed her our I knew I have the ball. If we match other team’s intensity we can play with anyone.”

Mount Sinai began double-teaming the Warriors ball carrier once they finally got possession and forced 17 turnovers in the first half. After Comsewogue’s Julia Fernandes scored off a Dorney assist to cut Mount Sinai’s lead to 4-1, senior Camryn Harloff began to attack, scoring two straight of her game-best four goals to up the advantage. Mitchell assisted on two of them as the Mustangs scored five times in a 15 minute span.

Mount Sinai’s Meaghan Scutaro shoots while Comsewogue’s Ava Fernandes (on left) and Hannah Dorney reach to block her. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“I like being in the middle, and Morgan and I work really well together,” said Harloff, who’s heading to the NCAA’s No. 1-ranked team, Stony Brook University, in the fall. “When her older sister [Kasey Mitchell] was on the team I worked well with her, too. We just click.”

Kasey Mitchell, an Stony Brook lacrosse player currently, and Harloff will be teammates again soon.

Mount Sinai spread out the assault with senior attack Meaghan Tyrrell also scoring a hat trick, and her younger sister Emma adding two goals and an assist. Twin defenders Meaghan and Kirsten Scutaro picked up the pace to get to slides that blocked Comsewogue from getting close to the cage the rest of the way.

“I think we bounced back from our loss, which we really needed,” Harloff said. “I think we met their intensity, and I think we played as a team.”

Behind head coach Al Bertolone who eclipsed 100 career wins with a 14-7 triumph over Christian Brothers Academy April 16, Mount Sinai moves to 8-1 overall and 6-1 in Division II. The Mustangs travel to Sayville April 26 for a 4:30 p.m. game.

“We have to take it play by play and realize how we got ourselves here,” Mitchell said. “It’s focusing on those little things. We set the bar so high, and we need to continue to reach it.”

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Mustangs remain perfect in League VII with 15-6 victory

Mount Sinai's Jared Donnelly crushes the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Jared Donnelly just keeps swinging away.

Mount Sinai starting pitcher George Rainer threw seven strikeouts in his win over Miller Place April 16. Photo by Bill Landon

The Mount Sinai senior designated hitter went 2-for-2 with a double, three RBIs and three runs scored to lead the Mustangs to a 15-6 win over neighboring Miller Place April 16. Senior first baseman Ryan Picarello was 2-for-3 with two doubles, two RBIs and two runs scored to keep Mount Sinai perfect (6-0) atop the League VII leaderboard. Senior starting pitcher George Rainer walked three and allowed three earned runs while striking out seven over six innings.

“Our lineup has gotten much better — our one through nine can hit the ball really well,” Picarello said. “We looked the other way, we hit a few holes and we had some good swings.”

Miller Place’s Nolan White and Rob Morales had hits that led to scores in the first for an early lead, but starting pitcher Tom Nealis struggled against a fierce lineup.

Picarello, Donnelly, sophomore catcher Nick Cergol, senior outfielder Ethan Angress and sophomore infielder R.J. Kehoe’s recorded hits to get on base in the second to help Mount Sinai to a 7-3 lead.

The Panthers rallied once again in the top of the third, with Morales driving in Kevin Bowrosen, but Mount Sinai sophomore outfielder Paul Gomes extinguished any chance of a comeback when he rushed to shallow center field to make a diving catch on a rapidly dropping ball.

“I got a bad jump on it — my first step was back — so I had to make it up with that dive,” Gomes said. “It stayed in my glove and I made the throw. I got lucky.”

Miller Place’s  Rob Morales reaches for the ball to hold Mount Sinai’s Ethan Angress at first. Photo by Bill Landon

It was all the Panthers offense could muster, as the Mustangs got back to work with Kehoe, Gomes, Donnelly and sophomore second baseman T.J. Werner crossing the plate in the bottom of the third for a 6-run lead, 11-5. Rainer said he felt confident on the mound with his comfortable lead.

“Once we got ahead I just wanted to stay ahead in the count,” he said. “We just kept tacking on runs and that helped me a lot out there. Because it was so windy, I had to make sure I commanded my fastball.”

Head coach Eric Reichenbach said although his Mustangs (7-1 overall) have five shutouts so far this year and boast multiple sluggers, he thinks his team will need to work on playing a more complete game to be able to make a deep run. Donnelly is now boasting a .462 batting average and .576 on base percentage. He’s has 12 hits, 13 RBIs and 13 runs over Mount Sinai’s eight games. Picarello has 11 hits over eight games, driving in eight runs and scoring 12. He has a .478 average and .586 on base percentage.

“We got a good lead, especially through the first few innings, but then we took our foot off the gas,” Reichenbach said. “I like what I see out of my offense — I’ve got a lot of big bats in the lineup, they’re squaring up a lot of baseballs — and we’ve got some team defense.”

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By Bill Landon

All you could hear Tuesday in Mount Sinai was the sounds of bats cracking.

The baseball team continued to rally inning after inning en route to a 13-0 win over Amityville March 27. The Mustangs blanked Amityville 14-0 the day prior.

Leading the way for Mount Sinai was designated hitter Jared Donnelly, going 3-for-3 with a double, two runs and four RBIs. Even though his team possesses a potent combination of strength from every angle of the field, he thinks there’s more work to be done at the plate.

“We’re going to have to be more consistent at the plate — we swung at some bad pitches,” he said. “Everyone’s a little out in front. We need to stay focused, under control and try to drive the ball the other way, but our bats have come alive.”

First to get Mount Sinai on the board was right fielder Ethan Angress, who went 1-for-2 with three RBIs. He led the Mustangs in their first game with four runs scored and five RBIs after going 3-for-4.

He set the tone March 27 when he drilled his first ball to right center to drive in a pair of runs in the top of the first. Donnelly was hit by a pitch that plated catcher Nick Cergol in the second, and after an Amityville conference on the mound Angress sent one outfield that drove home center fielder Paul Gomes for a 4-0 lead.

“I’ve been liking the defense and our pitching,” Angress said, but noted there will be more challenging opponents ahead. “Shoreham-Wading River and Bayport-Blue Point will be a challenge, but our next test is going to be Miller Place in three weeks, and we’ll need to be ready.”

Amityville was fortunate that more damage wasn’t done as the Mustangs stranded three at the end of the second. The Warriors once again struggled to get the ball in play top of the third as pitcher Ryan Shanian retired the side in order.

Mount Sinai coach Eric Reichenbach said it meant nothing to outscore his opponent 27-0 in the first two games of the early season.

“We’ve got to learn to get ahead in the count, pound the zone offensively — we’ve got to have better pitch selection [because] we’re not facing the better part of our schedule right now,” the head coach said. “If we have an offensive display like we did yesterday and today, we’re going to struggle down the road, so we need to stand back on the baseball and hit the ball the other way.”

Mount Sinai hosted East Hampton March 28, but results were not available by press time. The Mustangs play host to Amityville one last time April 6 at 10 a.m. before returning to face East Hampton on the road April 9 at 4:30 p.m.

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Mustangs fall short of back-to-back county titles with loss to Hauppauge

Brooke Cergol never counted her team out. With her Mount Sinai girls basketball team down from opening tipoff, the junior continued to let shots fly, scoring five of her team-high 13 points in the first half to try to keep her Mustangs in it. She went 3-for-4 from the free-throw line to end the first half, turning a 15-9 deficit into a one-possession game, but Mount Sinai couldn’t come any closer. The Mustangs’ undefeated season came to an end in a 51-40 Class A county final loss to No. 6 Hauppauge Feb. 23 at Farmingdale State College.

“Hitting those three free throws to get us back into the game felt amazing — it gave us hope, and we started playing more like how we usually play,” Cergol said. “Our strategy going in was to have a strong defensive position, get out on shooters and rebound. We tried to stay with that game plan as much as possible — sometimes it didn’t work the way we wanted to, but we definitely gave it everything we had.”

Cergol broke up another Hauppauge scoring streak to start the third and cut the deficit to 10, but the Eagles were soon at it again. Junior Gabby Sartori (11 points) was next to break up a scoring spurt, hitting her second 3-pointer of the game and two free throws. She continued to try drawing fouls while driving the lane, but was denied the opportunity in most cases. Lone senior starter Olivia Williams (eight points) capped off the eight minutes with a 3-point play to give her No.1-seeded team another shot in the arm.

“We knew we were still in it,” Cergol said. “We never got down on ourselves, and knew we just needed to play in the moment. We all pushed ourselves. Obviously, the game did not turn out the way we wanted, but each player left everything on the court, and that’s what I love about this team.”

Cergol scored on a layup and Sartori on an offensive rebound to trim Hauppauge’s lead to four, 32-28, but the Mustangs fell behind the rest of the way.

“I think the game was a good challenge for us,” Williams said, noting the loss of Margaret Kopcienski to injury in the third had a direct impact on the team. “I don’t think going down early got in our heads because we had been in similar situations before, but it took a while for us to get into the swing of things.”

Mount Sinai comes short of completing back-to-back county title-winning seasons, claiming the program’s first last year, but finished the regular season undefeated for the first time in school history. Williams is thankful for the opportunity to be a part of momentous seasons.

“Being out on the court as a senior was surreal to me because I have been a part of this program for so long,” she said. “I was motivated to give it my all every game knowing it was my last season, and being on this journey with my team has been an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. Being a Mustang has taught me so much about not only athletics, but the importance of having good character and leadership. I’ve had the chance to develop great relationships with my teammates and coaches over the years and have made memories that I will cherish forever.”

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Mustangs take Division I team title with seven top-two finishers, Port Jeff's Vin Miceli places first

Mount Sinai had four first-place finishers and three second-place grapplers to take him the Suffolk County Division I team title. Photo by Jim Ferchland

By Jim Ferchland

Mount Sinai senior Mike Zarif knows how to get the job done. The 138-pounder surrendered a 3-2 lead midway through the third period, and went into overtime tied at three against Center Moriches’ Donald Wood. As the two scrambled for position late, Zarif countered a Wood takedown attempt and spun behind the Red Devils wrestler for the two points and a 5-3 win. Of seven competing in the finals, four Mount Sinai grapplers came out on top.

“My coach was telling me ‘all heart, all heart’ especially when I was getting tired,” Zarif said. “I was just trying to push the pace and just push myself as much as possible. Being a county champ been my goal since last year. I’ve been working every day for it. Winning this is such a great feeling I’ll always remember.”

Mike Zarif with his county bracket. Photo by Jim Ferchland

Zarif, who picked up his 86th career win, was named the tournament’s Champion of Champions.

The strong showing helped the Mustangs to a first-place Division II finish for the first time in over a decade at the Suffolk County wrestling championships Feb. 11 at Suffolk Community College’s Brentwood campus. Mount Sinai tallied 241 points. Center Moriches, which earned the team title last year, finished second with 222 points.

“We have a really special group of kids,” head coach Matt Armstrong said. “They just worked so hard this year. It really payed off. It’s great when you can have kids excel and do well.”

Freshman Brendan Goodrich fell just short in a 2-1 decision to Bayport-Blue Point’s Joe Sparacio at 99 pounds.

“You know it’s going to be a 2-1 match either way,” Armstrong said of Goodrich’s match. “Unfortunately, Brendan was on the wrong side of it. He’s a young kid. We’ll see him back here for the next couple of years.”

Sophomore 120-pounder Michael O’Brien picked up his 76th career victory with a 5-1 decision over Shoreham-Wading River’s Eddie Troyano, who has a career record of 91-21 as a junior.

Three matches later, Mount Sinai’s Matt Campo (126 pounds) and Joe O’Brien (132 pounds) lost in decisions.

Port Jefferson senior Vin Miceli won the 126-pound title and his 127th career win with a 4-0 decision over Campo who, finish third in the state last year.

Port Jefferson’s Vin Miceli proudly displays his bracket atop the county podium. Photo by Jim Ferchland

“It feels awesome honestly,” Miceli said about being a county champ. “It’s quite an experience to have my hand raised in front of that crowd. All the work I put in — it showed off on the mat.”

The Royals, which fell on the other side with four wrestlers losing their county matches, placed third overall with 210 points. Miceli said it felt bittersweet that he was only finalist to win for Port Jeff.

“My team put in a lot of work as well, but it honestly comes down to the mental game,” he said. “You’ve got to want it. You gotta want every minute in your match. You got to work for every takedown. Every move matters.”

Rick D’Elia was pinned by Shoreham-Wading River’s Connor Pearce in 3:40 at 113 pounds. D’ Elia is 72-21 in his career after the loss. Three matches after Miceli’s win, Port Jeff junior Joe Evangelista took the mat against Mattituck’s Jack Bokina. Evangelista lost in a 12-4 decision. He said he has no excuse for losing.

“I’ve been working for this for a while and it’s not what I planned,” Evangelista said. “I don’t know what happened.”

Mount Sinai junior 182-pounder Mike Sabella and senior 195-pounder Jake Croston both won off early pins against Port Jefferson. Sabella took out Port Jeff’s Chris Lepore in 1 minute, 52 seconds. Croston pinned Harry Cona in just 39 seconds.

The victories come just weeks after the Mustangs took the county and state team titles. The individual winners automatically advance to the state championship Feb. 23 and 24 at Times Union Center in Albany.

“The kids all support each other,” Armstrong said. “They’re a tight-knit group, and the kids that are going upstate are the upper-echelon kids. I think that we are going to represent Suffolk County very well — they truly do have a legitimate chance of placing.”

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Someday other teams may be able to say they did it, but this Mount Sinai girls basketball team can say they did it first.

The Mustangs completed a perfect 20-0 regular season for the first time in school history with a 68-23 win against Hampton Bays at home on senior night Feb. 8.

Junior guard Gabby Sartori scored 21 points to lead Mount Sinai. She netted 17 points in the first half alone, going 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the first quarter and banking 11 of 12 attempts from the charity stripe by halftime.

“I don’t think we quite know yet what we just did,” Sartori said, laughing. “I didn’t know how to react at first. It’s just so surreal right now. It’s been such a long season and to see it culminate in this is amazing.”

“I don’t think we quite know yet what we just did.”

— Gabby Sartori

Senior Kayla Repperger put Mount Sinai on the board first on the way to an early 14-4 lead after eight minutes. By halftime, the Mustangs extended the advantage to 37-9 after a monster second stanza, outscoring Hampton Bays 23-5.

After the last few games the Mustangs wanted to clean up their act. Eleven players scored in the total team win. Kylie Budke finished with nine points, Casey Campo added eight and Brooke Cergol contributed seven.

“I’m very happy for the girls, and very proud of them, because they worked so hard,” head coach Jeff Koutsantanou said. “They wanted to set the right tone heading into playoffs, so they came out with a new intensity tonight — they really wanted to prove to everybody they’re back. I always believed in this team and knew if they worked hard anything can happen. They earned this.”

Mount Sinai was a step ahead of Hampton Bays all game, getting in the passing lane and stealing the ball, converting transition opportunities into points.

“They have great instincts,” Koutsantanou said. “My girls have the ability to see things — that’s what we do best sometimes. Everyone was scoring, everyone was passing the ball, they played the way we’re capable of, and when they play like that the sky’s the limit.”

“They wanted to set the right tone heading into playoffs, so they came out with a new intensity tonight — they really wanted to prove to everybody they’re back.”

— Jeff Koutsantanou

Although going undefeated wasn’t the primary goal for this season — the Mustangs are focused on defending their Suffolk County title — as the unblemished season started to take form there was some fear of history repeating itself. Mount Sinai fell in a close last game of the 2016-17 season to Shoreham-Wading River.

“It was in the back of my mind — I was thinking about it all day,” Sartori said of the potential of losing in the last game. “But we played like a team today, got the job done early and that’s what really got us on top. It’s a sigh of relief.”

Senior captain Olivia Williams said this was just another step in the direction of her team’s ultimate goal.

“This historic run is something I’m going to remember forever,” she said. “We’re definitely going to have to put in extra work, but I feel confident that if we come together we can do it.”

The Mustangs will compete Feb. 17 in the Class A quarterfinals at home. The time is to be determined.

Sartori said even though every game presents a new challenge, she thinks her team has the talent to beat anyone.

“We’re not perfect right now,” she said. “Our record may show it, but we’re definitely going to face tougher competitors. I think we can’t dwell on this for long. We’ll celebrate for the time being, but we have to get back to work tomorrow. That’s what’s great about our team — we can shift gears quick. Playoffs are definitely going to be a different atmosphere and we need to be ready for it.”

This version was updated Feb. 9 at 11:30 a.m. with additional information.

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Mustangs are one win away from historic perfect season

Gabby Sartori drives the lane in a Feb. 6, 2018 game against Miller Place. Photo by Desirée Keegan

By Desirée Keegan

Gabby Sartori turned in her strongest showing of the season at the right time.

Mount Sinai’s junior guard tallied 15 of her game-high 28 points in the third quarter to put the contest out of reach in her girls basketball team’s 56-25 win at Miller Place Feb. 2. She also  finished with seven rebounds and five assists.

Olivia Williams muscles her way to the basket. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“I thought Gabby had an unbelievable game,” head coach Jeff Koutsantanou said of the starter who eclipsed 1,500 career points earlier this season. “Best of the year.”

After Mount Sinai raced to a 10-0 start, Miller Place’s Ally Tarantino amped up the intensity, scoring all 11 of her points in the first half to get her team back within striking distance. The Panthers closed within one point twice, the second time, coming on a Tarantino buzzer-beater to bring the halftime score to 19-18. Sartori, who was guarding senior Jess Iavaroni in the first half, holding her scoreless, switched her focus to Tarantino, keeping her off the stat sheet in the second.

The Mustangs used five forced turnovers to swing the momentum back in its favor to open the third. Sartoti said her team never counted itself out.

“You can’t lose hope,” she said. “You have to keep your head up, especially when people are looking up to you. Our coaches did a good job of keeping us composed, we didn’t read into things. When the game gets close, we embrace it. I have so much fun in a game like this.”

Casey Campo carries the ball into Miller Place’s zone. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Mustangs finished with seven total turnovers and outscored the Panthers 37-7 in the second half. Junior guard Brooke Cergol, who added seven points and four assists, said the team used halftime to get a better game plan in place.

“At halftime, we all listen to each other talk about what we should keep doing, and what we need to change, and coming out in the third quarter we went after it,” she said. “What I love about this team is we all give our maximum effort. We have been in close games before, and we know how to handle it.”

Even when Mount Sinai wasn’t forcing turnovers, heavy defensive pressure was enough to disrupt Miller Place’s offensive flow.

“We like creating transition opportunity off turnovers — we like getting steals — and if we don’t get a steal or we don’t force a turnover, they’re 15 seconds into the shot clock, at which point, they don’t have a lot of time to execute,” assistant coach John Mees said. “It manifested into some good results today.”

With one game left this season, Mount Sinai is one step closer to making history. Last year, the Mustangs were one win away from a perfect season, dropping the last match of the regular season to Shoreham-Wading River. Mount Sinai improved to 19-0 overall and 15-0 in League VI with its latest win, and will host Hampton Bays Feb. 8, at 5:45 p.m., with the hope of becoming the first Mustangs team to complete a perfect season.

Brooke Cergol maintains possession. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Mees said the younger athletes in the district are already motivated to emulate what they see upperclassmen doing out on the court. Sartori said she already sees it in the girls who come to clinics and to watch games.

“These girls are so confident in their abilities that they have loftier goals than just 20 wins and being undefeated, and they’d rather take a loss and hold up that state championship trophy,” Mees said. “Where it’s most impactful is how it affects the younger girls in the community. They look up to these girls as heroines. When it’s written up in the paper ‘Mustangs go undefeated,’ it inspires the younger girls to want to play, and that makes our program stronger going forward.”

Even though the victory would be a cherry on top of an already great season for the upperclassmen on senior night, the girls said they already have a playoff mindset, looking to defend their Suffolk County title.

“We were talking about it happening, but have no idea how it’s going to feel, but we’re excited,” Sartori said. “To see where we are now and how far we’ve come, it shows the amount of hard work we put into this season. It’s all coming to fruition now.”

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Rocky Point easily landed at the top spot in Division II Medium at West Babylon Jan. 27. Photo by Jim Ferchland

By Jim Ferchland

The Eagles are soaring all the way to nationals.

Rocky Point’s cheerleading squad once again came out on top, with a 92.5 Division II Medium first-place finish at West Babylon Jan. 27. The Eagles were ahead of No. 2 Northport (77) and No. 3 Newfield (66.5). Head coach Anna Spallina said that competition is practice for nationals, where Rocky Point will be seeking its fourth national title.

Samantha Ferrara. Photo by Jim Ferchland

“When we won nationals in the past, we were beating teams by 20 plus points,” Spallina said. “We’re in a good place.”

Rocky Point keeps its standards high. Spallina, in her 14th year at the helm, has taken her team to the top of the Orlando scoresheet in 2011, 2012 and 2014. In the last two years, the Eagles finished second and third, respectively.

“It’s so much pressure,” Spallina said of maintaining the team’s ranking. “To climb to the top, I can tell you, is not as hard as staying at the top. Staying on top, no one wants you to take first place anymore. I don’t blame them.”

Before awards were announced, senior Julieanna Joy said she was confident her team would take first.

“I think we were pretty confident,” she said. “We knew that if we just hit our routine, we would end up on top.”

Junior Samantha Ferrara, who has been on the cheer team since seventh grade, is the only cheerleader on the current roster who has won a national title.

Mount Sinai placed first in Division I Large at the West Babylon competition Jan. 27. Photo by Jim Ferchland

“I want to give a boost to my team,” she said, “so they can feel what I felt a few years ago.”

Joy pointed to the coaching staff as a reason why the team’s been so successful.

“They push us to do our best and keep us relaxed,” she said. “They are always pushing us.”

Scanlon said that she is tough on the girls, knowing the standard having won five national championships with Hofstra University. To help the team perform to its level of difficult with percision, the Eagles practiced their routine over 100 times a year.

“This program is at the same level as a college program,” Scanlon said. “Spallina runs this program just as hard Hofstra cheerleading runs their program. We’re tough, and the kids know that.”

Mount Sinai continues to rock the top spot in Division I Large after requesting to compete outside of Division II, with no other challengers in that section. The Mustangs finished with a 91.05 ahead of No. 2 West Babylon (84.9) and No. 3 Sachem North (83.8).

Rocky Point’s cheerleading team sees each competition as practice for nationals. Photo by Jim Ferchland

Mount Sinai head coach Kara Bochicchio said it took a lot of preparation for the Mustangs to get where they’re at.

“We started open gyms back in April — we’ve been preparing for a while,” she said. “We’ve been working around the clock since. It’s been a long time coming.”

Mount Sinai senior captain Charlotte Fiordalisi competed in her first competition in over a month after she had surgery on her broken nose.

“I just want to thank all my coaches, my teammates and my doctors for being so understanding,” Fiordalisi said. “It’s unexplainable the joy I feel to be back out there with my team. I don’t really know what to say. I’m just so happy. It’s a fun day for me.”

Mount Sinai has one competition left on Long Island at Smithtown West  Feb. 3.

The teams will compete at nationals Feb. 10 and 11 before returning home to take part in the Suffolk County championship at West Islip Feb. 24.

“The big goal is nationals,” Spallina said. “These girls want to claim the national title, and we’re excited about that.”

This version correctly identifies what years Rocky Point won national titles.

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