The only undefeated team in Suffolk County at 22-0, the Wildcats found themselves trailing by two points at the halftime break. They would need Annie Sheehan’s free throw appearance to put the Wildcats back out front when the senior sank both to retake the lead 37-36 with 4:16 left in the third quarter. 

A three-pointer from GraceAnn Leonard would re-tie the game at 51-all with four minutes left in regulation. But the Wildcats’ unrelenting defense contained the Lady Kingsmens’ potent offense down the stretch. SWR closed the game for a 63-56 victory, delivering the program its first-ever Suffolk County title. 

Leonard led the Wildcats with 27 points. Sophie Costello added 16, and Sheehan banked 10.

Jaxie Cestone led Kings Park in scoring with 18 points, and Ryan Currier also netted 15.  

The win sends the 23-0 Wildcats to the Long Island Championship round on Saturday, March 11, when they face the Nassau class A title winner at Farmingdale State College. Game time is slated for 3 p.m.

— Photos by Bill Landon

The Hauppauge Eagles peppered the scoreboard in the opening round of the Suffolk A championship round in a road game against Comsewogue, nailing five three-pointers before the Warriors could answer. Comsewogue limped into the second half trailing by 17 points — a deficit from which they could not recover. Hauppauge cruised to victory to win the post season opener, 71-53, Feb. 13.  

Sophomore Cole Wood was the spark for the Eagles offense, draining five three-pointers, five field goals and four from the charity stripe for 29 points. Mark Petre, a senior, followed with 20 points. and Matt Neglia netted eight. 

Comsewogue senior Hayden Morris-Gray topped the scoring chart for the Warriors with 21 points. Teammates Colin Strohm banked 13, and Austin Nesbitt and Chris Beverly netted eight points apiece. 

Comsewogue concludes their 22-23 campaign with a 12-4 league record, 15-6 overall. 

The Eagles (No. 11 seed) live to fight another day where they play another road game against Mount Sinai (No. 3 seed) Feb. 16. Tipoff is slated for 5 p.m. 

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People are waiting once again for COVID-19 and other tests at local urgent care centers. File photo by Lina Weingarten

Around this time of year, parking lots are often full.

That’s true of the mall parking lot, as people go out to shop for holiday gifts for their friends and family, but it’s also true, especially this year, for hospitals and urgent care centers.

With the so-called “tridemic,” which is a combination of viruses that typically affect the lungs, including COVID-19, the flu and respiratory syncytial virus (or RSV), infecting people of all ages, the need for health care and medical attention has been high in the weeks leading up to the holidays.

When Dr. Sharon Nachman, chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, arrives at work at 7 a.m., she drives past urgent center parking lots that are “full for a reason. It’s because people are sick” and need medical attention at the start of the day.

Indeed, the combination of the three viruses, as well as other viruses and bacteria in the community such as adenovirus and enterovirus, has made it difficult for some children to attend schools and for adults to go to work.

For the week ending Dec. 10, which is the most recent period for which data is available, Suffolk County reported 3,936 cases of the flu, which is up 35% just from the prior week. The week ending Dec. 10 alone represents more than half of all flu cases for the entire 2019-2020 season, according to data from the New York State Department of Health.

At the same time, COVID and RSV numbers have climbed.

“We almost doubled our COVID census over the last three to four weeks,” Dr. Michael Khlat, chief medical officer at St. Catherine of Siena Hospital in Smithtown, explained in an email. St. Catherine currently has almost 60 COVID-positive patients. Nearly a third of those patients are admitted for COVID and are receiving intravenous remdesivir, while the others are incidental findings in the context of other medical needs.

“What is special about this surge is that it is inclusive of COVID, influenza, rhinovirus as well as RSV,” Khlat wrote. “The symptoms are very similar, and treatments are all supportive at this time.”

Family gatherings at Thanksgiving contributed to the increase, adding “extra turbocharging to the current respiratory viruses,” Nachman said.

The most vulnerable patients are the immunocompromised, patients with diabetes, chronic lung and cardiac disease, obese residents and patients with chronic liver and kidney disease, Khlat added.

Demand for beds

The influx of patients has meant that St. Catherine has had to increase its capacity of staffing using nursing agencies to meet the needs of the community for “seamless, high-quality care,” Khlat explained.

St. Catherine has also added more providers on the medical wards to care for patients and has load balanced patients with their Catholic services partner St. Charles Hospital and other Catholic Health facilities.

Nachman urged residents to see their primary care doctor if they have routine viral symptoms. Coming directly to the emergency room slows the process of delivering urgent care.

To be sure, Nachman urged anyone with chest pains or stroke-like symptoms should head directly to the emergency room.

Nachman said Stony Brook Children’s Hospital is transitioning to a model in which they triage patients who walk into the ER to assess the need for services.

As people prepare for family gatherings, Nachman suggested that they evaluate the risks of interacting with others.

People with an immune deficiency might want to wear masks or speak outside with others, particularly if someone in the group had one of the respiratory viruses.

Viruses like RSV are generally contagious for about three to eight days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

RSV spreads through close contact, which means that passing someone in a supermarket won’t likely spread the virus, while sitting and doing homework or eating a meal next to someone could.

As for COVID, Nachman continued to urge people to get the bivalent booster shot.

Every study, she said, shows that the booster drastically reduces the risk of being hospitalized with COVID.

In the Div. IV quarterfinal round of the postseason, the 4-3 Miller Place Panthers came knocking on the door of the 4-3 Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats on Friday, Nov. 4.

Miller Place, the fifth seed, looked to avenge its season-opening 3-point defeat at the hands of the Wildcats back in early September. And avenge it they did.

Miller Place running back Joell Spagnuolo rose to the occasion with a four-touchdown, 248-yard performance that powered the Panthers to victory, 35-28, while on the road.

Shoreham-Wading River wide receiver Will Hart caught two touchdown passes — one for 45 and the other for 23 yards — from quarterback Dylan Zahn.

The victory sends the Panthers to the semifinal round, where the team will face undefeated Bayport-Blue Point in another road game on Friday, Nov. 11. Admission tickets can be purchased here: https://gofan.co/app/school/NYSPHSAAXI.

In a bitterly fought match that went scoreless for 100 minutes of regulation and overtime, the Smithtown West Bulls beat the Northport Tigers, 1-0, in the Suffolk County boys soccer semifinal on Monday. The game was decided by penalty kicks — the last of which coming from a surprising source.

In a game that saw five yellow cards and countless hard tackles and collisions, West goalkeeper Landon Schneider came out of his net, where he played brilliantly the entire match, to score the game-winning penalty kick. After five successful penalty kicks by both teams, Northport missed on its sixth attempt.

Having been replaced in goal for the penalty kicks by backup Brendan Madden, Schneider stepped in for the sixth and game-winning kick and calmly drilled it into the left side of the net.  

Schneider and Northport goalkeeper Tommy Pace both made a number of acrobatic saves, but none was better than Schneider’s save of Richie Bender’s point-blank blast in the 95th minute that would have been a sudden-death victory for Northport.

Smithtown West (12-4-1) will now battle Connetquot (14-2-3) for the Suffolk AA Championship on Thursday Night at Comsewogue High School. Northport finished 12-6-1 on the year.

St. James residents had a new park to visit along Lake Avenue this summer. On Tuesday, Oct. 18, elected officials, members of Celebrate St. James, donors and residents came together at Celebrate Park for an official dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Oct. 18 marked the official dedication of Celebrate Park in St. James. Photo by Rita J. Egan

The park sits where the Irish Viking pub was once located. The establishment had been closed for nearly a decade when Town of Smithtown officials considered tearing it down to make way for a park and municipal parking lot. When the bar was put up on a tax lien, the town worked with Suffolk County to acquire it through an intergovernmental contract.

Volunteers from the cultural arts organization Celebrate St. James worked with elected officials during the design and construction of the park, including soliciting donations for the brick walkways that feature stones embossed with local families’ names and special messages from residents. 

In November 2020, Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R), other elected officials and members of the community broke ground and officially unveiled the plans for the park. On Oct. 18, among those Wehrheim thanked was Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) for his part in making the park happen. Bellone was unable to be in attendance due to dealing with the recent county cyberattack issues. The town supervisor said everyone had a part in making the park a reality.

“This day marks completion of the third and final phase of the revitalization efforts in St. James,” Wehrheim said, adding that the town is working on a connection to the sewer line installed under Lake Avenue a few years ago.

The town supervisor said before he took office in 2017, he had counted 33 vacant storefronts on Lake — now there are less than a handful. With more people strolling the street, kids riding their bikes, the park and more, he compared it to a Norman Rockwell picture.

“Today we can see what can happen when a community, the good people who call it home and local levels of government all work together as one,” he said. “Today we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor and officially welcome the people of this great town to Celebrate Park.”

Today we can see what can happen when a community, the good people who call it home and local levels of government all work together as one.”

— Ed Wehrheim

Wehrheim credited the Celebrate St. James volunteers, especially former president Natalie Weinstein and current president Patricia Clark, for being a big part of the process.

Weinstein said the park came to fruition due to an “unusual administration and an unusual group of volunteers.”

“Both embody the vision of economic revitalization,” she said. “Both are committed to progress, and both attract the talent and cooperation of some pretty amazing people.”

Weinstein also credited St. James residents due to their “generous donations of dollars, service and talents.”

“We know St. James has always been a special place,” the resident of nearly 50 years said. “This little sleepy hamlet of Smithtown has a history worth sharing and perpetuating. It has been home to a famous architect [Stanford White], a New York City mayor [William Gaynor], countless vaudevillians and many hardworking people who, in good times and bad, helped their neighbors.”

Weinstein said the park was aptly named by the town’s public information officer Nicole Garguilo, a lifelong resident of St. James.

“Today we cut a ribbon to symbolically and actually turn a vision into reality, taking an eyesore in our community and transforming it into a place of pride for all, now and in the future,” Weinstein said.

Clark said in 2017, every time she drove through Lake Avenue and other parts of town and see so many empty storefronts, she thought, “This place is dying.” Later she discovered Weinstein and Celebrate St. James vice presidents Arline Goldstein and Jack Ader had noticed the same as she did and approached town officials to see how they could help revitalize St. James.

She said in addition to working on the park, Celebrate St. James aims to turn the former Calderone theater on Second Avenue into the St. James Community Cultural Arts Center.

“Today, we see our dream of this park become reality, and now we at Celebrate are once again on the verge of a community endeavor of unique proportions,” Clark said. “Once again it is time to come together to plan for the future for our children, for our seniors and for ourselves. Now is the time to preserve and cherish the past on which we build a future to serve the town for generations to come.”

Mediterranean diet. Pexels photo
Diet plays a large role in quality of life as we age

By David Dunaief, M.D.

Dr. David Dunaief

What if I told you that approximately 85 percent of the U.S. population is malnourished, regardless of socioeconomic status and, in many cases, despite being overweight or obese (1)? The definition of malnourished is insufficient nutrition, which in the U.S. results from low levels of much-needed nutrients. Sadly, the standard American diet is very low in nutrients, so many have at least moderate malnutrition.

Most chronic diseases, including common killers, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers, can potentially be prevented, modified and even reversed with a focus on nutrients, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Here’s a stunning statistic: more than 50 percent of American adults have a chronic disease, with 27 percent having more than one (2). This is likely a factor in the slowing pace of life expectancy increases in the U.S., which have plateaued in the past decade and are currently at around 77 years old.

I regularly test patients’ carotenoid levels. Carotenoids are nutrients that are incredibly important for tissue and organ health. They are measurable and give the practitioner a sense of whether the patient may lack potentially disease-fighting nutrients. A high nutrient intake dietary approach can resolve the situation and increase, among others, carotenoid levels.

Benefits of high nutrient intake

A high nutrient intake diet is an approach that focuses on micronutrients, which literally means small nutrients, including antioxidants and phytochemicals – plant nutrients. Micronutrients are bioactive compounds found mostly in foods and some supplements. While fiber is not considered a micronutrient, it also has significant disease modifying effects. Micronutrients interact with each other in synergistic ways, meaning the sum is greater than the parts. Diets that are plant-rich raise the levels of micronutrients considerably in patients.

In a 2017 study that included 73,700 men and women who were participants in the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, participants’ diets were rated over a 12-year period using three established dietary scores: the Alternate Healthy Eating Index–2010 score, the Alternate Mediterranean Diet score, and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet score (3).

A 20 percent increase in diet scores (indicating an improved quality of diet) was significantly associated with a reduction in total mortality of 8 to 17 percent, depending on whether two or three scoring methods were used. Participants who maintained a high-quality diet over a 12-year period reduced their risk of death by 9 to 14 percent more than participants with consistently low diet scores over time. By contrast, worsening diet quality over 12 years was associated with an increase in mortality of 6 to 12 percent. Not surprisingly, longer periods of healthy eating had a greater effect than shorter periods.

This study reinforces the findings of the Greek EPIC trial, a large prospective (forward-looking) cohort study, where the Mediterranean-type diet decreased mortality significantly — the better the compliance, the greater the effect (4). The most powerful dietary components were the fruits, vegetables, nuts, olive oil, legumes and moderate alcohol intake. Low consumption of meat also contributed to the beneficial effects. Dairy and cereals had a neutral or minimal effect.

Improving quality of life

Quality of life is also important, though. Let’s examine some studies that examine the impact of diet on diseases that may reduce our quality of life as we age.

A study showed olive oil reduces the risk of stroke by 41 percent (5). The authors attribute this effect at least partially to oleic acid, a bioactive compound found in olive oil. While olive oil is important, I recommend limiting olive oil to one tablespoon a day. There are 120 calories per tablespoon of olive oil, all of them fat. If you eat too much, even of good fat, it defeats the purpose. The authors commented that the Mediterranean-type diet had only recently been used in trials with neurologic diseases and results suggest benefits in several disorders, such as Alzheimer’s. 

In a case-control study that compared those with and without disease, high intake of antioxidants from food was associated with a significant decrease in the risk of early Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), even when participants had a genetic predisposition for the disease (6). AMD is the leading cause of blindness in those 55 years or older.

There were 2,167 people enrolled in the study with several different genetic variations that made them high risk for AMD. Those with a highest nutrient intake, including B-carotene, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, EPA and DHA- substances found in fish, had an inverse relationship with risk of early AMD. Nutrients, thus, may play a role in modifying gene expression. 

Though many Americans are malnourished, nutrients that are effective and available can alter this predicament. Hopefully, with a focus on a high nutrient intake, we can improve life expectancy and, on an individual level, improve our quality of life.


(1) dietaryguidelines.gov. (2) cdc.gov. (3) N Engl J Med 2017; 377:143-153. (4) BMJ. 2009;338:b2337. (5) Neurology June 15, 2011. (6) Arch Ophthalmol. 2011;129(6):758-766.

Dr. David Dunaief is a speaker, author and local lifestyle medicine physician focusing on the integration of medicine, nutrition, fitness and stress management. For further information, visit www.medicalcompassmd.com.

Pistachios. Pixabay photo

By Barbara Beltrami

Someone brought me a huge bag of pistachios last week and after shamelessly bingeing on them, I went on a quest to find other ways to use them. They had to be good, I thought,  in a semifreddo recipe I had and would add a nice crunch to summer salads. I tried a  pesto with the pistachios instead of pignoli nuts and was very pleased and also made a pistachio-crusted salmon which was a big hit.

I still want to try them in crumbles as well as in a crust for fresh fruit pies and tarts and also pureed with cheeses or yogurt to make dips and spreads. 

So, merrily snacking on the pistachios as I set to work, I did some homework and came up with these recipes. If you don’t like them, there’s always pistachio ice cream, everyone’s favorite, it seems, except mine.

Zabaglione and Pistachio Semifreddo

YIELD: Makes 8 servings


5 large egg yolks

3/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons dry Marsala

3 large egg whites

3/4 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup chopped unsalted pistachios


Line a 9 x 5 x 3” loaf pan with plastic wrap; leave a 2” overhang on the top edges and chill the pan in the freezer. In the top of a double boiler beat together the egg yolk, 1/4 cup of the sugar and the Marsala until well blended. Place over simmering water and beat until the mixture has quadrupled in volume; remove from heat and place the bowl with the mixture in a larger bowl of ice water and, stirring occasionally, let cool.  

In a large bowl beat egg whites until frothy, gradually add the remaining half cup of sugar and beat just until mixture holds soft peaks. In a large chilled bowl beat the cream until it holds soft peaks, gently but thoroughly fold in the egg whites; fold in the yolk mixture and then half a cup of the pistachios. Scrape mixture into prepared pan, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 8 hours. Unmold the semifreddo onto a serving dish, sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup pistachios; slice and serve with fresh raspberries and espresso.

Orecchiette with Pistachio and Basil Pesto

YIELD: Makes 6 servings


1 pound orecchiette pasta

1 cup shelled unsalted pistachios

1 cup basil leaves

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 – 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

3 garlic cloves

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile in the bowl of a food processor combine the pistachios, basil, oil, cheese, garlic and salt and pepper; process, scraping sides of bowl often, until mixture reaches a smooth consistency. Reserving one cup of the cooking water from the pasta, drain it. In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the pesto, and add the reserved pasta water as needed to achieve the desired consistency. Serve hot or warm with a tomato salad and foccaccia.

Pistachio-Crusted Salmon

YIELD: Makes 8 servings


One 2 1/2 pound side salmon, skin on

Freshly squeezed juice of two lemons

1/4 cup prepared mustard

1 cup shelled unsalted pistachio nuts

1/2 cup unflavored bread crumbs

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350 F. Place salmon, skin side down, on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine lemon juice and mustard and brush lightly on top of salmon. In a food processor, combine the pistachios, bread crumbs, olive oil, parsley, salt and pepper. Sprinkle  mixture evenly over lemon and mustard mixture on salmon. Bake until salmon reaches desired doneness, about 15 to 20 minutes; remove to serving platter and let sit about 5 minutes. Serve with a tossed green salad or fresh asparagus.

Benner’s Farm in East Setauket continued its egg hunt tradition during the spring holidays, and for the second year in a row, created a socially-distanced event. 

On April 16 and 17, families arrived to the farm at their designated time slots to enjoy the egg hunt, take photos with the Easter Bunny, visit with the farm’s animals and check out merchandise from local vendors.