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Thunderbirds

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Undefeated Tigers boast strong swimmers, maintaining streak with no divers

Northport freshman Aiden Greenfield, won the 200-meter and 500 freestyle events, and was a member of the first-place 200 freestyle relay quartet. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Not fielding a single diver doesn’t faze the Northport boys swim team.

It hasn’t effected a single meet’s outcome yet either, as the Tigers edged previously undefeated Connetquot on the road Dec. 18, 93-90, for their fourth win of the season.

Being down 13 points before the first gun ever sounds has its challenges though, according Northport head coach Drew Modrov’s athletes though, especially when up against a strong swim team like the Thunderbirds have.

“Connetquot’s always a fierce team — we have kind of a rivalry with them — so we always know that when we come here it’s going to be a close meet,” the coach said. “It’s intense, and every point is going to matter. I’m just happy we came away with the win.”

The Greenfield brothers boasted big point totals for the Tigers.

Northport senior Zach Papsco clocked in with a state-qualifying time in the 100-meter butterfly, and was first to the block in the 100 breaststroke. Photo by Bill Landon

Senior Ethan Greenfield, along with 200-meter medley relay teammates Nick Millkey and Zach Papsco and Dylan Karpf, came in first with a state-qualifying time of 1 minute, 40.25 seconds. He added to Northport’s point total with a state-qualifying times of 22.05 in the 50 freestyle and 48.73 in the 100 freestyle.

“A lot of our guys came up big — Ethan Greenfield had a couple of best times in crucial wins,” Modrov said. “It was Ethan’s personal best in the 50 free.”

Freshman Aidan Greenfield, Ethan’s younger brother, won both the 200 and 500 freestyle events, and was a member of the first-place 200 freestyle relay quartet.

“I thought that the turning point was the 500 free — we went out and finished first and third, which dropped us even,” said Karpf, the only sophomore on the 200 medley relay. “And the last relay is what I thought really cemented it for us.”

Each member of the 200 medley also shined individually.

Papsco clocked in with a state-qualifying time of 53.57 in the 100 butterfly, and was first to hit the pad in the 100 breaststroke. Millkey won the 200 individual medley, and followed it up with a victory in the 100 backstroke, also stopping the clock with his own state championship time: 54.43.

Modrov said he was particularly impressed by the performances of his underclassmen, noting Aidan Greenfield and freshman Austin Neuf’s high placements.

“At the end we had a great swim from Austin Neuf, a freshman who took second place in the 100 breaststroke, and that put us over the edge and helped us win the meet,” the coach said.

After the holiday break Northport is back in action at Ward Melville Jan. 5. The meet is currently slated to begin at 4:30 p.m.

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Lukas Jarrett leaps up to the rim and scores two points. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Northport opened its season with a win over Connetquot on their home court Tuesday, defeating the Thunderbirds 62-51 in League II boys’ basketball action.

Brennan Whelan scores on a layup. Photo by Bill Landon
Brennan Whelan scores on a layup. Photo by Bill Landon

Connetquot broke out to an early 8-2 lead halfway through the first quarter, which shrunk to a three-point lead with just under two minutes left. The Tigers rallied and took their first lead of the game, edging ahead 11-10 in the last minute of the quarter, but Connetquot, on their final possession, let the clock wind down to two seconds, and hit a jumper at the buzzer to take a one-point lead into the second.

But it would be the last time the Thunderbirds would lead in the contest.

After a sluggish first quarter, Northport senior Lukas Jarrett found his rhythm and the rim, as he helped the Tigers surge ahead 19-12 with just over five minutes left in the half.

Connetquot controlled the inside game early, as they were strong down low and Northport struggled to handle the pressure.

The Tigers opened the second half clinging to an eight-point lead that shrank to five with just under four minutes left in the third. Northport senior Joe Stockman swished a three-pointer from the corner to give his team a six-point advantage, and the Tigers took a 42-36 lead at the 2:28 mark of the third.

Connetquot clawed its way back to open the final quarter trailing just 45-41, but Jarrett rocked the room with a three-pointer to aid the Tigers. Again the Thunderbirds muscled their way to the rim to cut the deficit, 48-43.

Lukas Jarrett leaps up to the rim and scores two points. Photo by Bill Landon
Lukas Jarrett leaps up to the rim and scores two points. Photo by Bill Landon

Northport head coach Andrew D’Eloia said that Connetquot is a tough, resilient team, adding that the matchups between the two teams are always competitive.

“We knew what to expect and we had to be ready and play all 32 minutes, and we did that,” D’Eloia said. “I thought Brennan Whelan, Sean [O’Shea], Lukas [Jarrett], Rory [Schynder], and Joe Stockman really stepped it up, so it was a real team victory.”

O’Shea, a senior, made his presence known with a long three-pointer from the corner to break out to a 51-45 advantage with just under four minutes left in regulation.

“We knew that they’re a team that likes to pound it inside and they have good shooters, so we prepared for that,” O’Shea said. “I like how we finished at the end. It was a close game. We didn’t get overwhelmed by the moment.”

Jarrett struck again from long distance, as the senior drained his second trey of the game, to put his team out front by 11 with just over three minutes left.

Play was stopped for an injury timeout as Jarrett took an elbow to the nose. The 6-foot, 7-inch forward, with cotton stuffed up his nostrils, sat on the bench for the rest of the game.

Rory Schynder drives the baseline. Photo by Bill Landon
Rory Schynder drives the baseline. Photo by Bill Landon

“They’re a physical team,” Jarrett said. “They were good at getting to the loose balls, so we had to match their intensity. Our bench is deep — it’s always been that way, so it’s awesome that when someone gets hurt, our bench can always pick us up.”

In the foul-plagued final minutes, both teams traded points at the free-throw line. Whelan nailed two, and the senior put his team ahead, 60-46.

“We knew they were going to be tough inside and they’re tough players,” Whelan said. “We let them get too many points inside, but we started to play well on defense and we pulled it out there at the end.”

Trailing by 14 points with time running out, Connetquot was forced to foul to arrest the clock, but learned that that was a losing battle with Northport at the charity stripe.

Whelan led his team in scoring with 18 points; Jarrett was close behind with 17 and O’Shea finished with 13.

The Tigers will try to carry the winning momentum into Friday’s road contest at Half Hollow Hills East. Tipoff is at 4:30 p.m.

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Ward Melville's Victoria Tilley and Alex Stein grab a block at the net in the Patriots' 3-0 loss to Connetquot in the Suffolk County Class AA finals on Nov. 12. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

It was a battle of the undefeated teams, but Ward Melville fell short. The Patriots girls’ volleyball team was able to power past Smithtown East but had trouble doing it again, and fell to No. 1-ranked Connetquot, 27-25, 25-18, and 25-20, Thursday in the Suffolk County Class AA finals.

Ward Melville senior Alex Stein scores a kill shot in the Patriots' 3-0 loss to Connetquot in the Suffolk County Class AA finals on Nov. 12. Photo by Bill Landon
Ward Melville senior Alex Stein scores a kill shot in the Patriots’ 3-0 loss to Connetquot in the Suffolk County Class AA finals on Nov. 12. Photo by Bill Landon

The Thunderbirds broke out to an early 10-4 lead, but the Patriots made it a one-point game later in the set to trail 19-18, forcing a Connetquot time out. Ward Melville scored next to tie the game at 19-19, but Connetquot rattled off five more points to surge ahead 24-21.

It was advantage Ward Melville when the Patriots scored the next four points to take a 25-24 lead, but the Thunderbirds were the No.1 seed for a reason, and dug out two more points to retake the lead, 26-25, and aced the final point to put the set away, 27-25.

“I felt like we got robbed in game one — I thought we had it but got a bad call there,” Ward Melville head coach Charles Fernandes said. “But I’ve got to be honest, I don’t think we played like we normally play. We didn’t pass very well and when we don’t pass well we don’t get into our offensive system.”

In a repeat of the first set, Connetquot broke out to a 10-4 lead and edged ahead 12-5 in the second set, before the team jumped out to a 20-8 lead. Ward Melville battled back to trail 22-14, and both teams traded points as Connetquot took the set to the brink, leading 24-14 before Ward Melville rattled off four unanswered points to trail 24-18. The Thunderbirds scored next though, to claim another set, 25-18.

Ward Melville junior Cierra Low sets the ball in the team's 3-0 loss to Connetquot in the Suffolk County Class AA finals on Nov. 12. Photo by Bill Landon
Ward Melville junior Cierra Low sets the ball in the team’s 3-0 loss to Connetquot in the Suffolk County Class AA finals on Nov. 12. Photo by Bill Landon

Fernandes spoke to his team following the second-set loss about what it took to battle back, being down two games to none.

“This has happened before — teams pull this out,” he told his team. “You’ve got to get the first one and that’s the hard one.”

With their backs against the wall, the Patriots broke out to an 8-2 advantage in the third set as the team tried to avoid elimination, but after a Connetquot time out, Ward Melville struggled to maintain the margin, and the Thunderbirds bounced back to tie the game 10-10.

Connetquot scored next to take its first lead, but the set was retied at 16-16 courtesy of a kill shot by Ward Melville senior outside hitter Alex Stein. The Thunderbirds edged ahead 20-17, then 22-19 and again brought the match to the brink leading 24-20.

Stein said that her team’s performance was not up to par with the level her team usually plays at.

“I don’t know if we were nervous, anxious or just all over the place mentally, but we did not click as a team,” she said. “Our defense was all over the place and it’s just not how we play.”

The Thunderbirds scored next to sweep the Patriots and advance to the Long Island Championship round against Massapequa, where the team beat the Nassau County champs for the Long Island championship title.

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By Bill Landon

In the deciding game of the Suffolk County Class AA baseball championship, Ward Melville hit the road to take on Connetquot and was never able to mount a scoring threat, as the Thunderbirds ended the Patriots’ season with a 6-0 blanking, Thursday.

No. 2-seeded Ward Melville had forced a game three with a 4-3 win over No. 1 Connetquot on Wednesday, and senior third baseman Joseph Flynn continued to make a statement with his bat when he led off the first inning with a stand-up double. The Patriot bats were unable to bring him home, though, and with one out and two runners in scoring position in the bottom of the inning, Connetquot went to work, using a line drive to shallow right field to score both players for the first runs on the board.

Ward Melville threatened again in the top of the third when senior Daniel DeCastro laid down a bunt to advance the runner, junior Frank Merlino, over to second base. With one out, Ward Melville hit a high fly ball to right field and Merlino took off for home plate. The only problem was that Connetquot caught the ball just short of the fence and threw to second base for the double play to retire the side.

In the bottom of the third with runners in scoring position, Connetquot struck again on a Patriots miscue to edge ahead 3-0 on a passed ball to the plate. After a conference at the mound, Ward Melville’s senior Joseph Barbieri took over pitching duties for sophomore Ben Brown.

The damage wasn’t done though, as Connetquot plated two more runners to end the third inning with a five-run advantage.

Ward Melville struggled to challenge its opponent the rest of the way, and Connetquot scored once more in the bottom of the fifth inning on a long drive just inside the third baseline, for the 6-0 lead and the win.

Ward Melville head coach Lou Petrucci was proud of his team’s successful season.

“We’ve had a lot of great memories,” he said. “We had three walk-off wins during the playoffs and we finished the season 22-4. It was a great accomplishment by our seniors, as well as the freshman we brought up, so it’s just a great group of kids. But it’s the friendships this team has cherished the most, and that’s what high school baseball is all about.”