Mustangs will travel to Shoreham-Wading River Feb. 9 for 6 p.m. game
By Bill Landon
On the first day of practice before the start of the season, Mount Sinai senior Cristina Gulli said her team set goals to make it to the playoffs and go undefeated on the way there. And the girls’ basketball team is making that happen.
“We’ve worked very hard every day, so it’s amazing that we’re undefeated so far,” Gulli said. “And that hard work in practice has paid off.”
“We were definitely hoping for this level of success at the beginning of the season, but we knew it wasn’t going to come without a lot of hard work.”
Practice makes perfect, and the Mustangs remained perfect when the team made short work of visiting Southampton Feb. 6, defeating the Mariners 73-25. The win keeps the team at the top of the League VI leaderboard at 13-0 and gives Mount Sinai at least a share of the league title.
After the pregame ceremonies that acknowledged the accomplishments of the eight seniors on the squad, the Mustangs got to work, and after eight minutes of play, the final outcome was clear.
Mount Sinai took a 36-14 advantage into the halftime break.
Senior Victoria Johnson was at the core of the Mustangs’ offense. She led her team in scoring with 25 points and had six steals. Mount Sinai head coach Michael Pappalardo saw to it that every player got time on the court, and the Mustangs surged ahead 69-21 with the help of those off the bench.
“We were definitely hoping for this level of success at the beginning of the season, but we knew it wasn’t going to come without a lot of hard work,” Johnson said. “We’ve put the time in, a lot of time we went over our goals for the season and we worked on something different in every practice.”
Senior Veronica Venezia scored 14 points as she battled in the paint most of the game, something she’s done all season long. She also finished with 16 rebounds and six assists.
“It definitely feels great staying undefeated,” she said. “Me and Vic have been playing together since eighth grade — we gained confidence in every game.”
“We all bring positive influences, and it’s just great to share this wonderful occasion together.”
Senior guard Nicole Hurowitz said she’s glad to be a part of a special group of players— something she said she’ll remember for years to come.
“We help each other out and it’s pretty amazing being here with all these girls,” she said. “We all bring positive influences, and it’s just great to share this wonderful occasion together.”
Mount Sinai’s last win topped its program-best 15 wins in 2010, where the Mustangs ended with a 15-3 record and won the league title. The team is 17-0 overall with one game remaining in the regular season.
There is nothing regular about the final game before postseason play though, as the Mustangs will face their greatest threat to their flawless record: Shoreham Wading River.
During the last matchup on Jan. 17, Mount Sinai was able to hold on to a six-point lead — its narrowest margin of victory all year — to win 61-55.
Pappalardo understands the magnitude of the final game of regular season — on the road against the toughest challenger this year Feb. 9 at 6 p.m.
“We’re focused on Shoreham — they’re a great team, they have an awesome coach, they have great athletes ,” he said. “The sky’s the limit and I’m just happy for the girls. It took a long time and we’re finally here.”