Sports

By Steven Zaitz

In a dominating performance by their frontcourt, the Northport boys basketball team beat Brentwood in the first round of the Suffolk County, Class AAA playoffs Friday, Feb. 23.

Forward Will Meyer had a career-high 24 points to lead the sixth-seeded Tigers, who knocked off the third-seeded and defending county and Long Island champion Indians, 79-68. Forward Brendan Fenlon had 18 points, including four three-pointers, and Owen Boylan added 15.

Slashing and dashing point guard Jojo Cipollino had 20 points and scored most of his points by aggressively attacking the rim. Northport built a 20-10 lead after a fast-paced first quarter as Cipollino and Meyer each had six in the first eight minutes.

But Brentwood exploded for 23 in the second quarter as Indian swingman Marquese Dennis poured in nine, including a three-pointer. His teammate, 6’6” power forward had 16 points in the first half and the two teams went to the locker room with Northport ahead 37-33.

The Tigers came into the game averaging 56 points of offense a game but seemed to enjoy the electrifying pace and were able to negotiate Brentwood’s attempts at trapping them in the backcourt. Using quick passes to break the press or long baseball-like passes to go over it, Northport was able to get inside for high-percentage shots in the paint or divert to Plan B and make an extra pass for three-point attempts by Fenlon or Boylan — who hit on seven smart bombs in total. 

As is the case with so many high school basketball games, this one was decided in the third period. With three minutes to go in the quarter three and Northport up by five, Fenlon hoisted up a long ball right in front of the Tiger bench. The ball went halfway down, popped out of the basket, and then straight down and in.  It gave the Tigers a 51-43 advantage. Meyer hit a layup and was fouled with less than a minute to go in the quarter and the Northport lead ballooned to 58-46. Meyer had 10 points in the third.

The Brentwood gym has been kind to Northport in recent years as the Tigers boast a 14-7 record. In their last playoff appearance here in 2021, they beat the heavily-favored Indians 58-56 to win the Suffolk County championship. This year, they completed just the first step to a title. They played William Floyd on Wednesday, Feb. 28, for a chance at the finals for the third time in four years — results unavailable at time of print. For Brentwood, the loss means they will not have their 11th Suffolk County title in school history or fifth in the last decade. 

— Photos by Steven Zaitz

Smithtown East senior Ben Haug drives the lane in the Suffolk Class AA semi-finals. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Smithtown East was hoping three times would be the charm when they faced their crosstown rival Smithtown West in the Class AA semifinal round at Longwood High School Feb. 27. East fell to West by 14 points in January, then nine points Feb. 5, and was hoping to upset the No. 1 seed when the score was 14 all at the end of eight minutes of play. Smithtown West showed why they’re the top seed as they stretched their legs the rest of the way running away to win the game 74-47 and, with it, punched their ticket to the county final round.

Ben Rappa along with Michael Cascione topped the scoring chart for Smithtown West netting 16 points apiece, Jack Melore added 14 and Matt Bannell netted 12.

Craig O’Neill led Smithtown East in scoring with 11 points, Ben Haug netted nine and Tom Fanning added eight.

Smithtown West (No.1) returns to Longwood High School Saturday, March 2, where they will face Half Hollow Hills East (No. 2) in the county championship title round. Game time is slated for 2:30 p.m.

— Photos by Bill Landon

By Steve Zaitz

Led by senior guard Benjamin Haug’s 24 points, the Smithtown East boys basketball team beat their rivals to the south, the Hauppauge Eagles, 65-49 on Feb. 24 in the first round of the Suffolk County, Class AA playoffs.

The Bulls, the fourth seed, improve to 16-5 and got  the opportunity to face an even fiercer rival – the number one seed Smithtown West Bulls.

In their win over the Eagles, Smithtown East rode a 19-3 second period to establish a commanding lead after a close first quarter. They took a 37-18 lead into halftime as Haug boasted 11 points and senior big man James Burton had 9 at the break.

Hauppauge junior guard Cole Wood hit three three-pointers in the second half and the fifth-seeded Eagles cut the lead to 11 late in the third quarter, but they never got any closer.  Wood finished with 17 points.

Breaking news

Smithtown West handily defeated Smithtown East in the semi-finals on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 74-47 and will face Half Hollow Hills East for the Class AA championship on March 2.

By Bill Landon

It was Neelesh Raghurama’s long-range shooting prowess that powered the Patriots (No. 9) over the Wolverines (No. 8) with four triples and five field goals for a team high 22 points, leading Ward Melville in a 62-38 win over host Newfield in the opening round of Suffolk AAA playoff action Feb. 21. 

Newfield stayed within striking distance trailing by eight points to open the second half but struggled to gain traction against a potent Patriot offensive press in the final 16 minutes of play.

Rounding out the scoring for the Patriots were Devin Lynch with 14 points and Lorenzo Beaton netted 12.

Josh Hayes topped the scoring chart for the Wolverines with 12 points.

Newfield concludes its 2023-24 basketball campaign with a 10-6 league record, 12-8 overall.

Undefeated Bay Shore ended Ward Melville’s run with a 60-40 win in the quarterfinals Feb. 23. The Patriots took home a 9-7 league record, 12-10 overall.

Mt. Sinai junior Brock Kolsch drives the lane in the Suffolk Class A playoff opener. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

When Mount Sinai’s Dominic Pennzello went to the free-throw line shooting two with just over a minute left in the second quarter, he calmly sank in the front end and when he netted the back end, the junior recorded his 1,000th varsity career point in the opening round of the Suffolk Class A playoff round. 

Despite this personal milestone, the visiting Mustangs (No. 5) struggled to keep pace with Bayport-Blue Point (No.4). Mount Sinai fell 69-59, ending their 2023-24 campaign Saturday, Feb. 24.

Pennzello finished the game with five field goals, three triples and three free throws for 22 points followed by teammate Blake Kolsch who netted 13 and Brian Vales with 10.

Pennzello ranks third in Suffolk scoring leaders this season with 122 field goals, 45 triples and 62 free throws averaging 22.1 points per game, as reported by Newsday.

Mount Sinai finishes its season with a 10-6 league record, 13-8 overall.

Photo from Stony Brook Athletics

The Stony Brook University men’s basketball team defeated William & Mary, 75-62, on Feb. 24 at Island Federal Arena. Four Seawolves posted double-digit points in the win, with Aaron Clarke and Tyler Stephenson-Moore leading the way with 18 points apiece.

Stony Brook started hot early, opening the game on an 11-2 run. The Tribe responded with several jumpers from Trey Moss to cut the deficit to six. The Seawolves immediately answered back with buckets from Keenan Fitzmorris and Clarke to regain momentum.

A pair of free throws from Clarke with four seconds left gave Stony Brook a 12-point advantage heading into the half. Stony Brook closed the half on a 15-9 run, highlighted by several big plays by Clarke and Fitzmorris.

Both teams traded buckets back and forth early in the second half as William & Mary cut its deficit to nine. The Seawolves responded quickly with tough shots from Jared Frey and Stephenson-Moore. Stony Brook pushed its advantage to 16 points, its largest of the afternoon, following a three from Stephenson-Moore.

After the Tribe again narrowed the deficit to eight points, the Seawolves put the game away with eight consecutive makes from the free-throw line to close out their 12th win at Island Federal Arena, defeating William & Mary for the second time this season.

“Good win for us … Happy to win at home [with] a good crowd on a Saturday afternoon,” said head coach Geno Ford after the game. “[If] you win by double figures at home in a conference game you’re going to take that any day of the week,” he added.

The team  heads on the road to take on Drexel on Feb. 29. The Seawolves and Dragons tip off at 7 p.m. from Philadelphia, with the contest streaming on FloHoops and NBC Sports Philadelphia.

Debby Mastrodima, above, teamed up with Cornelia Bruu-Syversen to win 6-3 on Saturday. Photo from Stony Brook Athletics

Stony Brook tennis won its first match in the CAA in the 2024 spring season, taking a 6-1 victory at Monmouth to close a weekend swing in West Long Branch, New Jersey on Feb. 24.

Stony Brook improved to 2-5 overall and 1-0 in conference play, as head coach Thiago Dualiby recorded his first conference win leading the Seawolves.

The Seawolves took two of three doubles games to record the point, with freshmen Mia Palladino and Darian Perfiliev teaming up for a win, before sophomore Debby Mastrodima and freshman Cornelia Bruu-Syversen won the clinching game.

Stony Brook then took five of the six singles matches, with Palladino, freshman Elena Lobo-Corral, Perfiliev, Bruu-Syversen, and junior Sara Annamaria Medved winning their matches.

DOUBLES

Brezanin/Mills (MON) def. Boro/Lobo-Corral (SBU), 6-4; Palladino/Perfiliev (SBU) def. Girish/McKinney (MON), 6-0; Bruu-Syversen/Mastrodima (SBU) def. Jamir/Landstrom (MON), 6-3 – clinching game

SINGLES

Palladino (SBU) def. Brezanin (MON), 6-3, 6-2; Lobo-Corral (SBU) def. McKinney (MON), 6-3, 6-2; Girish (MON) def. Boro (SBU), 2-6, 6-0, WR*; Perfiliev (SBU) def. Jamir (MON), 6-3, 6-4; Bruu-Syversen (SBU) def. Landstrom (MON), 6-1, 6-4; Medved (SBU) def. Mills (MON), 6-4, 7-6

“I’m really proud of the team. We set controllable adjustments after yesterday’s play and everyone executed them really well,” said head coach Thiago Dualiby. “We were able to set the right tone from the start today and executed positive behaviors throughout the match.”

The team heads to Rhode Island for two matches next weekend, first with a matchup against Bryant on March 1. First serve between the Seawolves and Bulldogs is set for 12:45 p.m.

By Bill Landon

Comsewogue Warriors (No. 4) hosted Bellport (No. 5) in the opening round of the Suffolk County class AA basketball title chase, with both teams deadlocked at 21-21 at the halftime break. The Warriors led by one point after three quarters of play at 33-32, but Bellport exploded in the final eight minutes of play, defeating Comsewogue 51-39.

Comsewogue senior Vienna Guzman netted 11 points as did teammate Jalynn Kirschenhueter and senior Hannah Ellis banked eight in the Feb. 23 contest.

Comsewogue concludes the 2023-24 campaign with an impressive 11-3 league record, 13-7 overall.

Mattias Weber

Elwood-John H. Glenn High School senior Mattias Weber, a member of the combined fencing team with South Huntington’s Walt Whitman High School, won the gold medal in saber at the Suffolk County individual championships, held on Feb. 10 at Ward Melville High School.

In his junior year, the nationally-ranked Weber earned first-team All-Long Island honors and anchored his saber team to the gold medal at the prestigious Alan Kuver Memorial Relay fencing tournament, and prior to this season, was named one of Newsday’s top 10 boys fencers for 2023-24.

“Congratulations to Mattias, what an outstanding career he has had,” Elwood athletic director Dave Shanahan said.

By Bill Landon

Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats made short work of Southampton to close out their regular season play on senior night. Both seniors Tiana Barone and Juliana Mahan were honored midcourt in a pregame ceremony and were joined by their parents Thursday afternoon Feb. 15. The Wildcats, No. 2 seed at 13-6, set the tone early, easily out pacing the Mariners in a game where everyone had playing time in the 59-16 League VI victory.

Mahan the team leader did what she’s done all season long, topping the scoring chart with 22 points this time. A pair of sophomores Kady Keegan netted 16 with Leslie Jablonski adding seven while Barone and junior Alyssa Bell banked four points apiece.

Clinching second place at 10-2 in their division behind league leader Mount Sinai, the Wildcats now participate in postseason play. As No. 4 seed, SWR hosts No. 5 seed Islip Friday, Feb. 23, at 5 p.m.