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Northport High School

By Bill Landon

Northport girls basketball, No. 2 seed, faced a tough match against No. 3-ranked Ward Melville Tuesday night to keep their championship dreams alive.

It was a tight game that saw several lead changes but with less the 2 minutes left the Tigers defense stood its ground, holding Ward Melville at bay to clinch a 61-56 victory in the Class AA semifinal round.

Northport junior Danielle Pavinelli topped the scoring charts for the Tigers with six 2-pointers, a trey and 5 from the stripe for a total of 20 points.  Junior guard Kelly McLaughlin followed with 14 and junior forward Kerry Dennin banked 11 points on the night.

Ward Melville’s Lauren Hansen led the way in scoring for the Patriots netting seven field goals, three triples and 10 from the free throw line for 33 points. 

Northport’s season continues Feb. 22 when they’ll face off against top-seeded Longwood for the Class AA crown. The game will be hosted at Walt Whitman High School, located at 301 W. Hills Road in Huntington Station, with tipoff at 7 p.m.

By Bill Landon

The Northport Tigers stood alone atop the League II leaderboard at 9-2 when they hit the road against Half Hollow Hills East, 8-2, who looked to displace the Tigers for the top spot. Displace them they did when the Thunderbirds defeated Northport,  64-50, Jan. 25 on their own home court.

Northport’s defense struggled to contain Hills East’s Shamar Moore-Hough who led the Thunderbirds in scoring with 19 points.

Northport sophomore guard Pat Healy led the Tigers in scoring with 15 points, senior forward Ian Melamerson followed adding 13 and junior guard Sean Walsh banked 11.

The loss bumps Northport from their perch to second place in league with four games remaining before the postseason begins. The Tigers will retake the court Jan. 31 hosting Lindenhurst at 6 p.m.

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By Bill Landon

A Northport junior raced to the head of his class in the League II boys track and field finals, and he never looked back.

Thomas Fodor was the first to cross the line in both the 600 and 1,000-meter events Jan. 19 at Suffolk County Community College’s Brentwood campus. Fodor’s winning times were 1 minute 26.51 seconds, and 2:37.57, respectively.

Finishing behind Fodor for a one-two finish in the 600 race was senior Kiernan Weaver, who clocked in at 1:28.09.

Northport senior Sean Ryan tripped the clock at 2:38.48 for second place in the 1,000 race. He also rose to the top of the field at the 1,600 distance with a time of 4:28.89.

In the grueling 3,200 distance, Northport Tigers claimed two top spots on the podium. Senior Jason Gibbons placed second, clocking in at 10:13.41. A bright spot in the freshman-sophomore class (Section 2) was Northport ninth-grader Wyeth Semo who won 1,600 race with a time of 4:54.65.

Pictured, clockwise from top left: Freshman Michael Perrino competes in the long jump event covering a distance of 15-6; Weaver races second place in the 600; Ryan leads the way winning the 1,600 race followed by teammate Aidar Matthews in bib no. 4641 who finished in fifth; junior Luke Cacic finished first in the League 2 shot put eclipsing his personal best by 3 feet throwing 44-5; and Semo took first in the 1,600 for Section 2 (freshman-sophomore division).

The Tigers will be back at the Brentwood campus Feb. 11 for the state qualifiers.

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By Bill Landon

The Lady Tigers made short work of visiting Lindenhurst in a League II matchup winning, 66-34, Jan. 7.

Northport girls varsity basketball team broke out to a double-digit lead early in the opening quarter and never looked back. Junior guard Danielle Pavinelli led the way for Northport banking seven field goals and two free throws for a total of 16 points. Co-captain senior Hannah Stockman nailed three triples and a pair of field goals netting 13 points, followed by junior guard Kelly McLaughlin who hit four field goals along with one from the charity strip for nine points.

With the win Northport improves to 4-1 in league (7-2 overall). The Lady Tigers will compete next at home against Smithtown West Bulls Jan. 11 at 6 p.m.

By Bill Landon

Smithtown High School West’s varsity wrestling team got off to a shaky start on the mats, but battled their way back Dec. 14.

Northport High School briefly took a 19-18 lead over the West Bulls, but Smithtown dropped the hammer late. The team defeated the Tigers, 41-21, in the League III matchup.

The win puts the West Bulls at 2-0 for the season, while Northport dropped to 1-1. Next, Smithtown will take to the road to compete against Mount Sinai in a nonleague match Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. The Tigers will travel to take on Riverhead Dec. 21 at 4:30 p.m.

Laurel Hill Road at Elwood Road in Northport. Photo from Google Maps

A traffic study of Laurel Hill Road conducted following a serious September accident found that drivers’ “poor behavior” makes roadway conditions significantly worse outside Northport High School, according to Town of Huntington officials.

The town’s Department of Transportation and Traffic Study conducted a study following the Sept. 4 accident involving 14-year-old Miles Lerner. Miles was an incoming freshman walking to cross-country practice at Northport High School when he was struck by a 2005 Honda sedan traveling eastbound on Laurel Hill Road at 8:06 a.m., according to Suffolk County police. He was airlifted to Stony Brook University
Hospital with a traumatic brain injury.

Following the incident, Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R), a citizen’s advocate and town employees met with members of the Northport-East Northport school district and Suffolk County Police Department’s 2nd Precinct Sept. 14 to discuss the accident and pedestrian traffic in the area. As a result, the town decided to undertake a traffic study of Laurel Hill Road, which is in the town’s jurisdiction, the result of which was shared with school officials and police officers at a Nov. 27 meeting.

The next steps are to meet with the school district’s architect, Suffolk County and residents to discuss the town’s traffic study and plans for improvements along Laurel Hill Road and on the school property.”

— Scott Spittal

“Our Traffic Safety team has been carefully analyzing the data they collected from vehicular as well as pedestrian bicycle traffic to formulate a recommendation that will make our roads safer for student walkers, reduce driver frustration and achieve an overall traffic calming effect, especially during those critical pick-up and drop-off times,” Lupinacci said.

From Sept. 19 to 27, town employees placed traffic counting devices along Laurel Hill Road and the driveways that provide access to and from the high school to collect data on traffic volumes and speed. The data showed an average of 420 vehicles traveled eastbound and roughly 500 vehicles westbound on Laurel Hill Road during the peak morning hour of 7 to 8 a.m. weekdays, compared to an average of 40 to 50 cars on weekends. The 85 percentile of vehicles were clocked traveling at approximately 45 mph eastbound and 39 mph westbound, nearly twice the school speed zone restriction set at 20 mph. The average number of vehicles counted traveling on Laurel Hill Road during the peak 2 to 3 p.m. hour was between roughly 220 to 240 cars in each direction.

“Conditions are made worse due to poor driver behavior that was observed, including drivers speeding, dropping off students in the westbound Laurel Hill Road shoulder area and travel lane, and using the westbound Laurel Hill Road shoulder to bypass the queue of vehicles waiting to enter the school’s westernmost driveway along Laurel Hill Road,” read the town’s report.

In addition, Huntington transportation and traffic employees noted that buses and vehicles made “precarious” left turns out of the school’s easternmost driveway on Laurel Hill Road, close to the intersection with Elwood Road.

Based on these findings, the town had produced a concept plan that suggests adding an exclusive westbound left turn lane on Laurel Hill Road to reduce driver frustration for westbound motorists looking to travel through the area, which would be achieved by reducing the width of the existing shoulder areas on both sides of the roadway. This would have the added benefit of eliminating the ability of drivers to use the shoulder to bypass the travel line and drop off students in the westbound shoulder of Laurel Hill Road, according to the town’s report.

“The next steps are to meet with the school district’s architect, Suffolk County and residents to discuss the town’s traffic study and plans for improvements along Laurel Hill Road and on the school property,” said Scott Spittal, Huntington’s director of transportation and traffic safety.

One downside to the Town of Huntington’s proposed concept plan is it would eliminate on-street parking in the eastbound shoulder of Laurel Hill Road, or approximately 25 spaces.

“The superintendent is appreciative of the town’s efforts in conducting the traffic safety study, however, it is too early to render any reaction since the preliminary recommendations were just released Nov. 27,” Mike Ganci, spokesman for Northport school district said in a statement.

During the week of  Thanksgiving, Northport students and faculty wanted to make clear their unwavering support for one of their own.

Northport school district held a charitable volleyball tournament Nov. 19 at the high school to raise funds and show support for 14-year-old Miles Lerner.

Miles was on his way to cross-country practice Sept. 4 when he was struck by a 2005 Honda sedan traveling eastbound on Laurel Hill Road at 8:06 a.m., according to police. He was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital with serious head trauma. He has recently
returned home but faces extensive recovery.

More than 30 teams participated with players including Superintendent Rob Banzer and Dan Danbusky, principal of Northport High School.

The tournament winners were student team Ralph’s Italian Ices and staff Team Equation. The total amount raised was not available by press time Nov. 20.

Sunny skies were the perfect backdrop for Northport High School’s 2018 homecoming celebration held on Oct. 20 in the Tigers newly redone stadium.

Northport varsity football team took on the Centereach Cougars in a match that saw the visiting team take an early lead. Tenacity and skill won out, as the Tigers won with a final score of 35-6. 

The halftime show featured the marching band, Tigerettes and Flagline who performed a variety of popular songs for the crowd. Seniors Trevor Koulemos and Pegeen Friese were crowned homecoming king and queen at the dance. 

Earlier in the day, Northport-East Northport school district held its annual  Hall of Fame induction in the auditorium. This year’s inductees included: Max Bartig, Class of 2006; Andrew D’Eloia, Class of 1991; Corinne Gandolfi, Class of 2006; Bryan Quinn, Class of 2003; Jaenine Michealsen, Class of 1986; the 2002 state championship girls varsity volleyball team and the Northport Tiger Marching Band, Flagline and Tigerettes.

Northport Tigers varsity boys volleyball defeated Smithtown West Bulls, 3-0, Sept. 13 in Smithtown.

Northport boys volleyball has started its 2018 season on a positive note with two consecutive wins. They will continue on the road to play Ward Melville Sept. 20 at 4:30 p.m.

The West Bulls are still looking for their first win of the 2018 season as they are scheduled to host Lindenhurst Sept. 20 at 4 p.m.

 

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Laurel Hill Road at Elwood Road in Northport. Photo from Google Maps

Northport parents are calling on school and town officials to examine what traffic improvements can be made to Laurel Hill Road after a teen was struck by a car outside Northport High School last Tuesday.

Miles Lerner, a 14-year-old preparing to begin his freshman year, was struck by a 2005 Honda sedan while crossing Laurel Hill Road Sept. 4 on his way to cross-country practice. While Northport-East Northport school district residents called the accident “upsetting” and “disturbing,” they weren’t surprised.

“If my complaints over the past few years had been heeded, it probably would have prevented this accident,” Jeantet Fields, a Laurel Hill Road homeowner said during a board of education meeting Sept. 6.

“If my complaints over the past few years had been heeded, it probably would have prevented this accident.”

— Jeantet Fields

Fields said he provided Suffolk County police officers with a video recording of the Sept. 4 accident captured by his home surveillance cameras that shows Lerner being struck and launched into the air “like a rag doll.”

“It was very disturbing” he said. “It’s one of those things you cannot unsee.”

The four-year Northport resident has admitted to being a bit of a squeaky wheel on the issue of traffic safety along Laurel Hill and Elwood roads. Fields said it’s a multifaceted issue resulting from insufficient parking, drivers not obeying the 20-mph school zone speed limit and traffic frequently backing up at the high school during drop-off and dismissal. He said buses and cars back up at the traffic light on Elwood Road, waiting to make the left onto Laurel Hill Road, and then again while trying to make left turns into the high school’s parking lots. Some drivers resort to using the shoulder of the road to pass on the right.

“I’ve gotten the middle finger salute for trying to pull out of my driveway,” Fields said.

Northport resident Michael Hawkins, whose son is also a member of the cross-country team, said traffic was worse than normal the morning of Sept. 4 as the district was hosting a superintendent’s conference day at the high school.

“I believe the district is partially to blame for the security guards who were standing at the entryway to every parking lot, asking every person who went into the parking lot for ID,” he said. “What happened is it backed up traffic for blocks and blocks and blocks around the high school.”

Hawkins asked Northport’s board of education and school officials to consider this a “teachable moment” and ensure steps are taken to increase parking spots and resolve traffic concerns.

Fields said he believes a more active approach to revamping traffic flow on the roads surrounding Northport High School is needed. The father said he observed a truck passing over the double yellow line, to the left of a stopped school bus, while at the end of his driveway to picking up his 6-year-old daughter. Upon reviewing the security footage, Fields compiled a video documenting about 25 drivers utilizing the westbound shoulder of Laurel Hill Road to illegally drive past stopped buses and cars in a roughly 30-minute time frame Sept. 6.
The Northport homeowner said he has shared the video with Suffolk County Police Department’s 2nd Precinct Community Oriented Police Enforcement and offered to share it with Town of Huntington and school official in the hope of encouraging action.


There was a speed radar sign posted at the end of Fields’ driveway Sept. 6 to make passing motorists aware of their speed. He said he believes an unmarked patrol car was keeping watch near the end of his driveway the following morning.

“People were slowing down for the first time,” he said. “It was a short-term behavioral change, and there’s a need for long-term change.”

Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) had received several phone calls from concerned Northport-East Northport residents by Sept. 7, according to town spokeswoman Lauren Lembo.

“I’ve spoken with Superintendent [Robert] Banzer and their safety team has reached out to Steve McGloin [town Director of Transportation and Public Safety] to see if there are any improvements on Laurel Hill Road to be made,” Lupinacci said in a statement. “Superintendent Banzer is reaching out to the county in regard to Elwood Road.”

Fields said he plans to start an online petition to ask town and county officials to conduct a traffic study of the intersection on how it can be improved.

“My goal right now — honestly and a bit selfishly — is to change the behavior of motorists on this street before my daughter has to cross the street to go to high school,” he said. “I have seven years. If I could, I’d do it in less.”