Sports

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Ward Melville led by 14 points at one point, only to have East Islip rally back in the third quarter to retake the lead by two in a Class AA quarterfinal. The Patriots held off the late game surge by the Lady Redmen holding on to win it, 58-56, at home Feb. 19.

Ward Melville senior Morgan Wenzler battled in the paint leading her team in rebounds along with several put-backs to top the scoring chart with 18 points. Julia Greek, a freshman, did her damage from long distance draining three triples, a field goal and three from the charity stripe netting 14 points. Senior Sarah Bucher had a triple and five from the floor for 13, and teammate Jamie Agostino, a sophomore, banked nine.

The win propels the Patriots (No. 5 seed) to the semi-final round where they’ll square off against top seeded Northport at Centereach High School Feb. 22. Tickets can be purchased for $8 online at gofan.co/app/school/NYSPHSAAXI or purchased at the gate for $10, cash only.

Game time is 2:30 p.m.

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The Rocky Point cheerleading squad shows just who is number 1 after their victory at the UCA National High School Cheerleading Championship. Photo from Anna Spallina

By Julianne Mosher

Rocky Point’s varsity cheerleading squad won the national title earlier this month after an intense and successful season of victories. 

The Rocky Point Cheerleading squad during the homecoming game September 2019. Photo by Bill Landon

The team has won all five of its competitions this year and then made its way to Orlando, Florida, to participate in the 2020 UCA National High School Cheerleading Championship at Walt Disney World held last week. 

“The girls executed a flawless routine and hit everything in sync,” said Anna Spallina, team coach. “It’s what every coach dreams of.”

Since 2011, the school has been in the top three at the national cheerleading championships and held this highest ranking three times prior to this win: 2011, 2012 and 2014.

Competing in the medium varsity Division II category, the girls knew how important it was to hit every movement and tumble. “We were going to have some tough competition,” Spallina said. 

“That’s what makes cheerleading so exciting and amazing,” she added. “It’s the biggest stage of the year and they were totally prepared to take the mat.”

Training all summer, the team of 19 was ecstatic to hear that they were the new national champions again. 

“I can’t even explain the feeling… they were so happy and were crying happy tears,” Spallina said. “The parents too, they made a lot of sacrifices this year for the team and they were thrilled.”

But what was especially exciting was that the graduating seniors were able to receive several different titles after some were brought onto the team in the seventh grade. 

“The one thing they needed was a national title before they leave,” she said. “And they got it. I’m so happy for them.”

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Port Jefferson streamed onto the court after the final buzzer Feb. 13 as now they make their way to the Suffolk B Finals against Mattituck Feb. 21. Photo by Courtney Biondo

It was a whiteout on the basketball court Feb. 13 at home, as the Lady Royals defeated Babylon 55-37 for a playoff win.

The home crowd, all dressed in white to support the No. 1 seed Lady Royals, streamed onto the court after the final buzzer, cheering the team’s chance at the Suffolk B Finals game.

Junior Evelyn Walker had six points and 11 rebounds, along with a 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter.

Leading in scoring was sophomore Abigail Rolfe with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while junior Brooke Zamek was no slouch at 17 points.

Port Jefferson is set to retake the court against Mattituck in the Suffolk B Finals game Friday, Feb. 21 at Centereach High School. Game time is set for 6 p.m. The admission fee is $8 when purchased online at https://gofan.co/app/school/NYSPHSAAXI. Otherwise the fee is $10, cash only, at the door.

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Having lost to Riverhead by a single point back in December, the Patriots had a score to settle in the opening round of the playoffs. Settle it they did Feb. 13, torching the Blue Waves, 75-55, in the Suffolk AA quarterfinal.

The Patriots scored first, building an 11-point lead after eight minutes, up 16 points at the half and then never looked back the rest of the way. Senior guard Jack Holland did what he’s done all season leading the Patriots with 22 points. Teammate Giancarlo Serratore netted 18, while Ted Bliznakov banked 10. The Patriots 3-point game was devastating where Serratore and Holland nailed four treys each while Luke McIlvaine banked two for the win.

The No. 9 seeded Patriots (8-5) will have their work cut out for them on another road game when they collide with No. 1 seed Brentwood (13-0) Feb. 20. Game time is 6 p.m.

Miller Place senior Ryan Sheridan fights his way to the basket in the Panther’s playoff opener against Glenn Feb. 12. Photo by Bill Landon

It was a trifecta for Miller Place in the opening round of post season play, having defeated Elwood John Glenn twice during the regular season. The Panther’s made it three-in-a-row, taking down the visiting Knights 66-52 to survive to play another day.

Miller Place senior Daniel Barrios was lights-out driving the lane seemingly at will and netting a team high of 22 points. Matt Frank’s eight points in the 3rdquarter extinguished a Glenn rally, banking 14 points on the night while teammate Justin Leichter did his damage from long-distance draining four triples for 12 points.

The Panthers are seeded No. 4 and will have their work cut out for them when they collide in a road game against Amityville, the No. 1 seed, Feb. 19. Tipoff is at 5:00 p.m.

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Carlos Hernandez flips his opponent. Photo by Bill Landon

The Comsewogue Warriors wrestling team came out onto the mat Feb. 8 at the Eastport-South Manor high school, with several of their members finishing strong. 

Leading the way for Comsewogue in League V finals were Ansel Then with a second-place finish at 145 pounds, as did teammate Blaise Coppola at 160 pounds. At 220 pounds, it was Cole Blatter who finished in the No. 2 spot. 

The Warriors look to build on their success in the county championship round at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood Feb. 15-16. The wrestling season culminates with the NYSPHAA finals at the Times Union Center Feb. 28-29.

Former Yankees professional Dana Cavalea came to the Barnes & Noble in Lake Grove to promote his book to a full crowd. The Mount Sinai native has had a long career in both professional baseball and in books. Photo by David Luces

Dana Cavalea, Mount Sinai native, is passionate about coaching. For 12 years he spent time as the New York Yankees strength and conditioning coach, and along the way got to pick the brains of some all-time
great athletes.  

Former Yankees professional Dana Cavalea came to the Barnes & Noble in Lake Grove to promote his book to a full crowd. The Mount Sinai native has had a long career in both professional baseball and in books. Photo by David Luces

He didn’t think he would eventually become an author, but he views his book, “Habits of a Champion: Nobody Becomes a Champion by Accident,” as an extension of coaching. 

“I never had the intention of writing a book, but I was reading these self-help books and I felt there was a gap from what I was reading and what I was seeing on the baseball field working with these athletes,” he said. “That’s what drove me toward writing this book, I wanted to write a handbook, that people can use as a utility as they navigate life.”

Interactions with Yankees fans also inspired him. 

“It also came about being at the stadium and fans coming up to me asking me questions about their own lives, about how they could improve their performance in a certain area,” Cavalea said. “I’d give them an answer, and then they would come back to another game during the season and they would ask another question.”

The Mount Sinai native pointed to a family friend, coach Billy King as a big reason why he chose to pursue his career path and started his training journey. 

“He was a big influence on me, when I learned what he was doing, he was in the gym training, watching what he eats, and I was like wow that’s pretty cool,” he said. 

Cavalea was 19 years old attending the University of South Florida and working as a strength and conditioning intern for the school’s football team when he was offered an unexpected opportunity. 

A professor at the university told him that the Yankees, who were in the midst of spring training at nearby Legends Field in Tampa, were looking for an intern to help out. 

Cavalea, who just so happened to have visited the ballpark as a fan the previous day, drove over the next day and was put into Yankee gear and was on the same field stretching with pitchers Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte. The Mount Sinai native worked as an intern for three years, then became an assistant, before becoming a coach at 23 years old. 

“The Bronx is only about 60 to 70 miles away from here but I had to go 1,800 miles away in order to get there,” he said.  

The performance coach said he took those experiences and wanted to write something in his own style, so people could tell it was written by him and it was authentic. 

“[Coach Billy King] was a big influence on me, when I learned what he was doing, he was in the gym training, watching what he eats, and I was like wow that’s pretty cool.”

— Dana Cavalea

“Habits of a Champion” is split into 15 lessons designed to help the reader succeed in different aspects of life. Cavalea shared some of those lessons at a Feb. 8 book-signing event at the Smithaven Mall in Lake Grove. 

Those included: “If someone doesn’t respect your time, they don’t respect you,” something Yankees Hall of Famer Derek Jeter would say, stressing the importance of being on time. Another was “never get too high and never get too low.” Cavalea mentioned that a person’s attitude or mood can determine their daily success. 

“It all comes down to how you control your own emotions,” he said. “Whether you are an Olympic athlete or a high schooler that has a big test or presentation.”  

In addition to writing books, Cavalea now works as a life coach and motivational speaker. Some of the clients he coaches are business executives, athletes and CEOs of companies. He has been asked to speak at a number of big corporations, nonprofit organizations and schools. 

“The messages and lessons are very universal,” he said. “When you’re a coach you are trying to learn as much as you can, and how you can maximize human potential.”

Despite the busy schedule, Cavalea said he enjoys writing books and has plans to release a children’s book sometime in April. He has already written two children’s books: “Champion Kids: Johnny ‘The Jet’ Saves the Day” and “Girls on the Run: Starring
Mighty Melina.” 

“It’s fun for me, It’s great being able to share these lessons with others,” he said. “If the best of the best need help, so does everyone else.” 

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Ward Melville junior Briana Grant was the class of the field at the 1,000-meter distance, placing first at Suffolk County Community College Feb. 10 with a time of 2 minutes, 58.55 seconds to qualify for the New York State championship finals to be held at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in Staten Island Mar. 7.

Teammate Megan Wood, a senior, also qualified for the state final in shot put with a throw of 42 feet 3 1/2 inches. 

Ward Melville senior Allison D’Angio cleared 4 feet 10 inches in the high jump and the quartet of Elizabeth Radke, Sarah Thornton, Jane Radke and Arianna Gilbride contested the 4×400 meter relay event.

Huntington had a score to settle with visiting Newfield in a Feb. 6 Division III game, having lost to the Wolverines back on Jan. 14.

The Blue Devils avenged that loss with a 40-34 victory on senior night to finish the regular season on a winning note. Senior Abigail Maichin topped the scoring charts for the Blue Devils with five from the floor and seven free throws for a team high 17 points along with a dozen rebounds. Freshman guard Gianna Forte followed with eight and sophomores Katie Browne and Makayla Frazier netted three apiece.

Raiyah Reid, an eighth-grader, led the way for Newfield with nine points, sophomore Megan Spina banked seven and senior Madison Roman along with junior Chinelle Nelson each netted six.

The win lifted the Blue Devils to 7-5, 12-8 overall, as Newfield finished at 7-5, 13-5 overall. Both teams entered postseason play, which began Feb. 10.

 

Rocky Point’s Matt Caggiano battles in the paint as Kings Park junior Nicholas Svolos defends Feb. 5. Bill Landon photo

It was a must win for the Rocky Point boys basketball team in order to make post season play, but Kings Park had other ideas, defeating the Eagles in the final game of the regular season 77-27 Feb. 5.

Kings Park Co-Captain Jack Garside topped the scoring chart for the Kingsmen with six field goals, four triples and seven free throws for a team high of 31 points. Nicholas Svolos followed with 12 while Jon Borkowski banked 10.

Gavin Davanzo led the way for the Eagles with 18 points and teammate Will Platt netted 7 in the League V season finale.

The win lifts Kings Park to 15-1 in their division, 18-2 overall and look to carry the momentum into the opening round of the playoffs Feb. 12.