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Tornadoes

By Bill Landon

P.J. Clementi couldn’t believe his eyes. Racing between two defenders for a loose ball just out of reach on the left side of the cage, along came Andy Derasmo, who was rounding behind it. Derasmo flicked the ball to Clementi, who caught it on its third bounce as he crouched and swiveled to his right. He scored on a no-look shot around the defender to his left while falling to the floor.

It was the final goal of the game with five minutes left, and put it out of reach in No. 1-seeded Harborfields boys lacrosse team’s 8-4 win over No. 3 East Islip in the Class B county championship.

“It rolled right to me, and I was just thinking, ‘No way,’” Clementi said. “So I scooped it up. I knew where the net was and I just flung it. Then, I saw the net move.”

His three goal, two assist afternoon helped Harborfields to its first county crown since 1992.

The Tornadoes (14-3) will face Garden City (15-3) in the Long Island championship at 3 p.m. Saturday, June 2 at Hofstra University.

Head coach Glenn Lavey said the boys, besides wanting the win for themselves, took extra pride in bringing home the title to all three of the team’s assistant coaches, who were on the last championship-winning team 26 years ago.

“We’ve been waiting for so long, so for those kids on the team and for all the guys that have played, this team really brought everybody together,” Lavey said. “It means a lot. I love these guys and in this town — everybody shares in this win.”

The Tornadoes also relished showing off the many weapons in Harborfields’ arsenal.

Clementi, who started the scoring for his team with a goal after a dodge to tie the game 1-1 in the early going, dished the ball to Derasmo to give the team a 2-1 lead. Harborfields never trailed after that, but didn’t pull away until the fourth quarter. East Islip tied the game 4-4 midway through the third.

Jimmy Bifulco, Stephen Markowski, Aiden Costello and M.J. Buckholtz also scored.

Goalkeeper Zack Yorio (17 saves) did his part to keep the game close early. He made a high stop in the final seconds of the first half to preserve Harborfields’ 3-2 lead, and robbed Sidorski of a goal in the game’s final seconds. The East Islip threat ranks third in Suffolk with 102 points and tops in assists with 57 and was held without a point.

“When they tied it [4-4] we just kept our foot on the gas pedal,” Clementi said. “We kept pounding. We tried to convert in transition, but we had some luck on our side, too.”

Bifulco said his senior season’s crowning achievement was something years in the works.

“I’ve been dreaming about this since I was little,” he said. “I’ve played with these kids my entire life — it’s just a dream come true. It’s all I ever wanted for us.”

By Bill Landon

P..J. Clementi powered No. 1 Harborfields’ boys lacrosse team to its first Class B final appearance since 1992.

Though scoring four goals in the first half of the Tornadoes’ 11-7 semifinal win over visiting Rocky Point May 23, his four assists in the second proved much more crucial.

The team had likened the game to boxing match. After the first two quarters, the teams were in a 6-6 stalemate, but Clementi said he knew the difference was Harborfields had what it took to last all four rounds of this fight.

“There’s no doubt [Rocky Point] is a great team, but we’re built for this — we’re a 48-minute team,” Clementi said. “Halfway through the fight we knew we had ‘em, so we stood on the gas pedal and it showed on the scoreboard.”

Although Rocky Point had its fair share of time with the ball, the Eagles struggled to get a clear shot on goal. The Tornadoes defense swept up several passes for turnovers and Harborfields was right back on attack.

“We really took it play by play, goal by goal — stayed focused on the little things,” senior Andy Derasmo said. “Getting ground balls and clearing makes the game.”

Clementi connected with Derasmo (three goals, one assist) three times in the second half to help Harborfields to a lead it would not relinquish. Clementi also handed the ball off to senior Jimmy Bifulco (three goals, one assist).

Harborfields head coach Glenn Lavey said he told his team to not worry about the tied halftime score, putting an emphasis on remaining physical to tire out the Eagles by the second half.

“We had to just focus on grinding,” he said. “I told my guys I wouldn’t be surprised if it was tied at halftime. I told them you win a 12-round boxing match with body blows — it’s not easy to stay with us an entire game.”

Rocky Point senior Mike Vaden (two goals, one assist) scored the final goal of the game. Classmates Jake Wandle and Zach Gill also added two goals apiece for the Eagles. Sophomore Tyler Kotarski made a game-high 15 saves to Tornadoes senior Zack Yorio’s 12.

Harborfields will face No. 3 East Islip for the Suffolk County title Wednesday May 30  at Islip High School at 4:30 p.m.

No. 9 Harborfields will travel to No. 8 Westhampton today at 4 p.m. in the second round of playoffs

By Bill Landon

Harborfields’ strength lies in its singles play. The No. 9-seeded boys tennis team swept all four singles spots — all the Tornadoes would need in a best-of-seven series — and went on to blank visiting Brentwood 7-0 in the first round of the Suffolk County playoffs.

Harborfields junior Alex Rzehak, who earned All-State honors the last two years, led his team at first singles. He shut down Brentwood’s Armando Santana 6-0, 6-0.

“He’s our No. 1 player,” Harborfields head coach Bob Davis said of his state tournament alternate. “He plays the best kid on every other team in our division. In fact, the top four finishers in the county are all from our division. This is the second year in a row he’s the alternate. He’s a junior, so he’ll get another bite at the apple.”

Eighth-grader Chris Qi, at fourth singles, also shut out his Brentwood opponent.

“He wound up with a 9-3 record this year in our division — that’s not easy,” the coach said. “We have some kids who are serious about tennis, and [slowly but surely] we’re getting there.”

Other young Harborfields athletes shined during the match. Freshman Michael Singer nipped his challenger 6-1, 6-0 at second singles. Singer made the All-County team this year, and won a round in the county singles tournament.

“We’re hoping for big things from him [moving forward,]” Davis said.

Rounding out singles action was junior Bobby Bellino, who won his match 6-0, 6-1.

“He could wind up being the best of all,” the coach said of his third singles player. “He’s got amazing tools, he just has to work on his consistency.”

The second doubles pair of John Mulé and Luke Verdon competed in the only match that went to three sets. After falling 3-6 in the first, the seniors rallied back 6-3, 6-1 to claim a win in the second-to-last match of the afternoon.

“It was interesting,” Mulé said. “We really didn’t play much at all last week because of the weather. We may have underestimated our opponent at first, they’re pretty good.”

Davis, although thinking his team should have been seeded higher, said he’s under no illusion that his team will have to work hard to prepare for No. 8 Westhampton May 23. The Tornadoes will travel to Westhampton for a 4 p.m. match.

“I think we should’ve gotten a high seed … so now we have to go out and prove it,” he said. “Westhampton is a very good team. It’ll be a very good match, so we’ll see what happens.”

Bellino said he’ll be prepared, but added the doubles pairs will also need to be ready to back up the singles players.

“It’ll be a lot of pressure on our doubles guys — they have to come up big and get those crucial points because if one of us in singles loses, we need a doubles team to pull through,” he said. “I’m just going to go in with a clear head and not think about the pressure that’s riding on the game … just go out and have fun, try to find my opponent’s weakness and use that to my advantage.”

This version was updated May 22 at 9 p.m. to change the date of Harborfields’ next game, which was postponed due to rain.

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Madison Brady keeps a Deer Park opponent at a distance as she moves the ball up the court. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Erin Tucker and Hallie Simkins combined for three points from the free-throw line in the final seconds of Harborifelds’ girls basketball team’s 39-37 edging of Deer Park at the Northport invitational shootout Dec. 30, helping to cap off 2017 on a 6-0 undefeated streak in League V.

Hallie Simkins muscles her way to the rim with a Deer Park opponent at her hip reaching for the block. Photo by Bill Landon

The Tornadoes haven’t missed a beat despite losing all five starters to graduation last year.

“This is a completely new team,” Harborfields head coach Glenn Lavey said. “And that was a good win for them.”

Early in the game points were hard to come by for both teams, as Deer Park took a 7-6 lead into the second stanza, which is where the Falcons’ 3-point game came alive. Three consecutive trifectas were scored before Harborfields could answer, giving Deer Park an 8-point lead, 16-8, with three minutes left in the first half.

Harborfields junior Celia Argiriou launched a long distance shot to net her first 3-pointer of the game to close the gap to 16-13, but the Falcons outscored the Tornadoes 17-11 in the quarter to take a 24-17 advantage into the locker room.

“At halftime, our coach just told us 7 points is nothing — we’ve just got to keep chipping away at it, we’ve got to play harder than them,” Tucker said. “That’s what went through everyone’s mind — do it for the team, and eventually, it will move in our direction. We played a zone coverage we literally put in three weeks ago, and we caused some turnovers that we were able to turn into points.”

With three minutes left in regulation, the forward battled in the paint and scored to make it a 1-point game. One the next possession, Simkins took matters into her own hands and banked two points of her own to give the Tornadoes their first lead since the first quarter with 2:28 left.

Erin Tucker shoots uncontested. Photo by Bill Landon

“I just kept thinking, ‘We have the effort, we have the drive, but we just kept fighting and pushing them by doing what we know how,” said Simkins, who finished the third quarter with two consecutive buckets that cut the deficit to 31-26. “[We won because of] our mental toughness — we all really stayed headstrong on the court and we never gave in.”

With 12.6 seconds on the clock, Tucker went to the line shooting two and banked both of her free-throw shots to edge ahead by three. After a Falcons score, the Tornadoes kept their cool, and Simkins split the difference during her team’s final showing at the charity stripe to seal the deal.

Tucker and Simkins topped the scoring sheet with 11 points apiece. Freshman forward Madison Brady, who banked seven, said Lavey’s encouragement at halftime resonated with her and her teammates, who know the program’s positive playoff position its in year after year.

“Coach said we can come back, and we all agreed that we’re better than that first half, and we could come back,” Brady said. “We just have to battle it out every game the whole season to win our league, and hopefully make a run at a county championship.”

Harborfields looks to continue its positive trajectory in 2018 when it hosts Hauppauge Jan. 4. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

By Bill Landon

Harborfields settled the score Saturday as the Tornadoes invaded Rocky Point and avenged last year’s homecoming loss by outscoring the Eagles 20-13 during a homecoming celebration of their own. Rocky Point senior Petey LaSalla bulled his way up the field for two touchdowns to help tie Harborfields with eight minutes left in the game, but a Tornadoes touchdown and stop sealed the Eagles’ fate Sept. 16.

“The juniors on last year’s team remember that loss,” Harborfields head coach Rocco Colucci said. “I mean, hats off to Rocky Point, they’re a great football team and with good teams it usually does go down to the last minute, but what better way than to [come here] and return the favor at their homecoming game.”

Harborfields dominated the time of possession in the opening half, but the Eagles’ defense held the team to just one touchdown after senior quarterback P.J. Clementi found a hole into the end zone at the 10:58 mark of the second quarter. With a failed point-after attempt, the team took a 6-0 lead into the break.

“Our defense [played well] in the first half to hold them to just six points when they had possession like 90 percent of the time,” LaSalla said. “We lost a close one last week and this obviously sucks going 0-2, but we have power points [given to teams that face top-ranked opponents] and we have a big game next week at Comsewogue, which is their homecoming, and hopefully we can do to them what Harborfields did to us.”

The Eagles opened the second half by marching the ball down to a fourth-and-one, but Harborfields’ defense plugged the hole and took over on downs. The Tornadoes used the possession to strike with just two minutes left in the quarter. Clementi took another keeper across the goal line, and Harborfields senior Ethan Krauss split the uprights this time to put his team ahead 13-0.

“Our offensive and defensive lines were unreal today — they were making holes, they were clogging holes,” Clementi said. “To have those big guys up front, it’s a blessing, but I knew [Rocky Point was] going to try to get [Petey LaSalla] the ball. because he’s their playmaker.”

The Eagles’ offense opened the final quarter with a new look, putting LaSalla in shotgun formation. The running back plowed up the field until he crossed into the end zone for Rocky Point’s first touchdown of the day. Senior Jack Costa nailed the extra-point kick attempt to pull within six, 13-7. LaSalla scored again, but a missed kick blew Rocky Point’s chance at taking its first lead of the game.

With the score tied 13-13, Clementi hit senior wide receiver Chris Dluginsky bolting down the left sideline 56 yards to Rocky Point’s 22-yard line. Senior running back Jimmy Bifulco finished the job with the final touchdown of the game for the 20-13 win.

“I know they’re a great team, well-coached, but we came out here and we played our best,” Bifulco said. “We’re a family, we stick together the entire way and when it comes down to the last minute, we’ll finish it.”

Harborfields did just that, holding off Rocky Point on its final attempt deep in Harbrofields’ territory with 14 seconds left until the time expired.

“I was sitting on the sideline and and I couldn’t watch,” Clementi said. “I walked back to the track and turned around. I was just waiting for that [last] play to be over.”

Rocky Point head coach Anthony DiLorenzo said he wishes he’d have taken a timeout when a first down was signaled following Rocky Point’s first possession of the second half.

“Unfortunately, at the end of the game, that came back to bite us,” he said. “We came up short on the two-yard line.”

Colucci said he couldn’t be more proud of his players, especially despite not being at full strength.

“This was the ultimate team win,” he said. “Even at halftime people were looking at each other and saying ‘we still got this.’ I have a couple of guys who weren’t feeling well and I told them ‘don’t play for yourself, play for the guy next to you because next time they’re going to do it for you,’ and that’s going to win us some close games.”

By Bill Landon

Shoreham-Wading River was on a hot streak — scoring 27 goals in the first three games of the field hockey season, all of which were shutouts. That spotless streak came to an end with a 3-1 loss to a tough Harborfields team Sept. 12.

“We were very worried and concerned about Shoreham,” Harborfields head coach Lauren Desiderio said. “They were blowouts, and that’s beyond impressive.”

The Tornadoes showed no worry or concern, as midfielder Gianna Bifulco dished the ball off to forward Jenelle Bennardo for the first goal of the game 11 minutes in. Not used to playing on grass, the Wildcats seemed to struggle.

“The ball moves very slowly on grass, and everyone reaches the ball more quickly. but I think we adjusted well in the second half,” Shoreham-Wading River junior Michele Corona said. “We just needed to talk more towards the end and we need to work on that in our next game.”

Opportunity came knocking again for Harborfields, and Sarah DeVito answered for a 2-0 lead with 11:26 left in the half.

“I’m not going to lie, I was really intimidated when we were told what their record was coming in,” DeVito said. “And all day in school, especially in math class, every couple of questions the numbers zero, three and 27 would pop into my head.”

On a penalty shot, Harborfields Sarah Gray put her team out front 3-0.

“We thought we were on the lower end,” said Gray. “But we were excited to get in the game and show them that we’re here to play.”

The Wildcats had no answer by halftime, but with 16:03 left in regulation, Harborfields went a man down, and Shoreham-Wading River looked to capitalize, but squandered the opportunity.

“They have a lot of skilled players and they’re very fast,” Harborfields Desiderio said. “They have skilled players and they did a good job putting pressure on us. I was pleased with our transition.”

Shoreham-Wading River found the box nine minutes later when Corona’s solo shot took the zero off the scoreboard to close the gap, but the team would come no closer.

With the win Harborfields improves to 2-1 and will see action today, Sept. 14 at Greenport-Southholdat 4:30 p.m. Shoreham-Wading River hits the road the same day to face Miller Place at 5:45 p.m.

“We’re so used to playing on a smooth surface we’re a passing team and that’s much more effective on turf,” Shoreham-Wading River head coach Jenna Stevenson said. “It’s our first loss of the season and we’ll look to see where our weaknesses were in this game and improve — get back on a winning streak.”

Harborfields' Grace Zagaja hugs coaches Mary Santonmauro and Kerri McGinty following the win. Photo by Desirée Keegan

By Desirée Keegan

For the first time in four years, the Tornadoes are touching down on semifinal turf.

With a 14-7 win over Comsewogue May 23, the No. 4 Harborfields girls’ lacrosse team advances to take on No. 1 Eastport-South Manor May 25 at 4 p.m.

Harborfields’ Falyn Dwyer shoots. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“The whole season we’ve had a team first mentality,” senior Falyn Dwyer said. “We win as a team, we lose as a team. We knew it was a do or die situation, so we really picked up the intensity.”

That passion showed. In the first 10 minutes, Harborfields was already up 4-0. At the 13:41 mark, Dwyer scored her hat trick goal. Senior Katherine Alnwick followed her up with back-to-back goals less than a minute apart, and soon the Tornadoes were ahead 7-0.

“Last time we faced them we had a lot of trouble scoring, so we worked on a lot of offenses to capitalize on finding the open girl,” Dwyer said. “A lot of the time [my teammates] clear out for me if I have the ball and they know I have a lane. They do a good job of letting me use my speed. We moved the ball a lot better than we have in the past and we put our plays in well.”

Comsewogue junior Hannah Dorney found the back of the net with 9:13 left in the first half to put the Warriors on the board, freshman Olivia Fantigrossi set up eighth-grader Ava Fernandes off a free position and Dorney scored again off an assist from senior Julia Tuohy to cut the lead to 8-3 at the end of the first half.

Comsewogue’s Hannah Dorney moves the ball across the field. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The successive goal scoring seemed to work well for the Tornadoes, and sophomore Hallie Simkins kept it going with back-to-back goals to open the second half.

“Coming off the draw strong really helps us get the momentum going, and getting a few goals boosted our confidence,” she said. “It’s great that we even got here, so the fact that I got to put a few goals in the back of the net just makes it an even more amazing feeling.”

Harborfields head coach Kerri McGinty also thought her team was resilient from start to finish.

“We had a mind-set when we stepped out on the field today and it carried through,” she said. “We took smart shots, we finished, we had some huge defensive stops that led to goals — so it was that culmination of everything happening together. All of the girls were playing for each other. That’s the best thing you can ask for a team.”

Harborfields’ Hallie Simkins crashes into Comsewogue’s Hannah Dorney as she carries the ball into the Warriors’ zone. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Senior Grace Zagaja’s turnover led to her second goal of the game, and junior goalkeeper Erin Tucker made half of her eight saves in the game’s final minutes to halt the Warriors’ threat. Zagaja and senior Kailey Broderick were also key to grabbing ground balls that gave the Tornadoes extra possessions, which led to even more goals in the final minutes.

Dwyer finished with four goals, Broderick had two goals and two assists and Alnwick added two goals and an assist.

“There was a lot of hustle and a lot of heart,” Dwyer said. “Now we have one day to prepare, so we have to put in a lot of work tomorrow.”

Simkins said if the team plays like it did against Comsewogue, they’ll be successful in the next round.

“It was a good team win — we put all the pieces together,” she said. “It’s nice when everyone shows up, and I’m confident in the way we play when that happens. Getting this first-round win is a major barrier we finally climbed over.”

By Bill Landon

Four of the five starters on Mount Sinai’s girls’ basketball team helped the soccer squad score its first Suffolk County title last fall. This winter, the Mustangs brought those winning ways from the field to the court.

Winning has become a tradition at Mount Sinai. The Mustangs went nearly undefeated in League VI play, going on a 17-game streak before a 44-33 loss to Shoreham-Wading River. Despite that, Mount Sinai was able to grab a piece of the league title for the first time in school history. Then, the road to the Class A finals began.

The Mustangs crushed Bayport-Blue Point 91-48 before outscoring Sayville 68-54. The No. 1 seed ultimately found itself up against a familiar foe in No. 2 Harborfields. The two schools had also faced off as the top-seeded teams during the Suffolk soccer finals, and, in front of a near-capacity crowd of 500 at Riverhead High School Feb. 24, Mount Sinai pulled away with another crucial win, 54-42, for its second county crown of the school year.

“Our defense was the key in getting stops and rebounding, and turning those into points.”

—Veronica Venezia

For seniors Victoria Johnson and Veronica Venezia, the win was a long time coming personally and for the program.

“It feels amazing to be Suffolk County champions — Veronica and I have been on the team since eighth grade, so we started a long time ago,” said Johnson, who scored 11 of her 16 points in the second half. “Back then we didn’t win many games, and here we are — it’s a dream come true.”

Sophomore Gabriella Sartori had the hot hand in the first quarter, scoring 10 of her team-high 18 points. First, she swished a free throw to successfully complete a three-point play, and hit a shot from beyond the arc soon after to help her team double its opponent’s score with an 18-9 lead at the end of eight minutes. She also added six rebounds and two assists in the win.

“From the beginning of the season I just wanted to play at this level,” she said. “I’ve been with this group since the seventh grade and to reach this point and watch this team grow is just amazing.”

Behind 31-19 heading into the locker room, Harborfields head coach Glenn Lavey said the 12-point deficit put his team in unfamiliar territory.

“Spotting them a lead like that is not our style — we’re kind of a running football team if you will — we’re not a spread offense,” he said. “We had some breakdowns in the first eeight minutes of the game and we didn’t execute some things we needed to early.”

“I’ve been with this group since the seventh grade and to reach this point and watch this team grow is just amazing.”

—Gabriella Sartori

Despite the lead, Mount Sinai head coach Michael Pappalardo said he warned his team that the Tornadoes weren’t going to run out of steam that easily.

“Harborfields, they’re aggressive,” he said. “We told the girls this is going to be close. You don’t think that team is going to let you walk out of here giving you the championship.”

Harborfields senior Grace Zagaja scored on a putback, and teammate Kate Tardo hit a long-distance shot in the third, but Mount Sinai’s defense swarmed.

With 10 seconds left in the quarter, Johnson went to the line and sank both to make it a 10-point game, but Harborfields senior Falyn Dwyer came through with a buzzer-beating triple that helped her team cut the deficit to 40-33.

With just over four minutes left in regulation, Venezia came up with another putback (she finished with a double-double on 12 points and 15 rebounds) to re-extend the Mustangs’ lead, 45-36.

“They’re definitely a challenge — they always have been the past years we’ve played them,” Venezia said of Harborfields. “But our defense was the key in getting stops and rebounding, and turning those into points.”

Tardo, who tied with Dwyer for eight points, drained her second triple of the contest to make it a six-point game. Two minutes later, eighth-grader Madison Brady (seven points) picked off an in-bounds pass, went straight to the rim for the score and made it a four-point game, 45-41, with 3:10 left to play.

After Harborfields missed its final five shots from the field, Johnson went 7-for-8 from the free-throw line in the final 31 seconds to put the win in the record book.

“It is ironic to win back-to-back titles against Harborfields — they’re a great team, but we worked really hard to be here.”

—Brooke Cergol

“We always talk about it in practice in every game — everyone’s going to have their ups and downs,” Johnson said. “You’ve got to be prepared for both. We had to fight our way through adversity to get here.”

Also on the championship-winning soccer team besides Johnson, Sartori and junior Olivia Williams, was sophomore Brooke Cergol, who rounded out the scoring with eight points.

“It feels amazing — especially after soccer,” she said. “It is ironic to win back-to-back titles against Harborfields — they’re a great team, but we worked really hard to be here. It was crazy, it was a really tense situation, but we pulled together.”

Mount Sinai moves on to face Mattituck for the Small School champion title at Suffolk County Community College Brentwood Feb. 28 at 5 p.m. The winner will face off against the Class AA qualifier for the Section XI title. That game will be played at Suffolk’s Selden campus March 5 at 5 p.m.

Regardless of the outcome of those games, Mount Sinai has the opportunity for another first, when the Mustangs take on the Section VIII Class A champion March 11 at SUNY Old Westbury at noon for the Long Island title.

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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Kate Tardo passes the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Harborfields’ Kate Tardo is the core of her team’s defense, who according to head coach Glenn Lavey is always tasked with guarding the opponent’s leading scorer. True to form, the senior held her opponent to just one basket in Harborfields’ crushing defeat of Amityville, 73-32, on the road Feb. 7.

Christiana de Borja drives the lane. Photo by Bill Landon

“She’s probably the most unsung hero probably in the county,” Lavey said of Tardo. “She has an assignment to guard really good players — [La’Niya Clark] is a 1,000-point scorer and Kate held her.”

Clark went on to score 13 points.

Lavey added that his All-County player does things behind the scenes that are an integral part of the team’s success.

“It’s like noticing an offensive lineman — no one notices the right tackle, they notice Tom Brady, so she’s the one that protects Brady, but all they write about is Tom Brady.”

Harborfields led 19-5 after eight minutes of play, and jumped ahead 41-21 by the halftime break.

“Our energy — we just kept pushing the ball,” Tardo said. “We were tiring them out and getting them frustrated. We kept up our pace and our intensity the entire game. We played a full 32 minutes.”

The defense held the Warriors at bay at every turn, as the shot clock worked against the home team. This is a tactic Lavey said his team has employed effectively all season.

Falyn Dwyer scores. Photo by Bill Landon

“We haven’t given up more than 37 points in a game all season,” he said. “That’s why we know we have a chance to go all the way — it’s because of our defense.”

Even after swapping his starters for bench players, Amityville couldn’t close the gap.

Senior Christiana de Borja led all scorers with 16 points and had seven assists. Eighth-grader Madison Brady, who hit a pair of 3-pointers, six free-throws and a field goal was close behind with 14 points, and senior Grace Zagaja finished with a double-double on 13 points and 11 rebounds.

“We kept our composure throughout the game,” Zagaja said. “We kept our energy up and that frustrated them. We kept picking at them until they [made mistakes], and then we started to make baskets, and that’s kinda how we do it.”

With the win, Harborfields, at 15-1 overall and 12-1 in League V, secured at least a share of the league title. Sayville currently sits at 11-2, so if Harborfields doesn’t win its final game of the regular season, a home game against Islip on Feb. 9, and Sayville wins its matchup, the two would share the top spot. Weather permitting, tip-off for the game against Islip is scheduled for
6 p.m.

Grace Zagaja looks for the rim inside the paint. Photo by Bill Landon

Lavey said although he’s not looking past Islip at home, his team needs to transition into playoff mode.

“What we want to get better at is running the floor and getting easier baskets,” he said. “We attack the rim, but we want to get the ball up the court, reverse and attack and not let our opponent set up its defense.”

Floor general de Borja, who is good at controlling the tempo this way, said she believes if the team keeps doing what it’s been doing, it’ll be successful.

“We definitely have the will to win, we just need the will to prepare in this home stretch,” she said. “And if we do that, I think we’ll have a good playoff run.”

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