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Katie Reilly goes to the rim. Photo by Bill Landon
Katie Reilly goes to the rim. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Needing a win to earn a share of the League III championship title, the Huntington girls’ basketball team took care of business Tuesday night, defeating Smithtown East on the road, 63-50. It was senior night for the Bulls, who were able to close within 11 points late, before falling to the Blue Devils.

Huntington sophomore Alex Heuwetter had the hot hand early, scoring seven points, while teammate Anna Gulizio, a junior, added six to put their team out front 21-9 after eight minutes of play.

Having trouble scoring from the paint, Smithtown East unleashed its 3-point game, with juniors Tori Redmond, Jordi DeBernardo and Alex Schultz netting treys in the second quarter. But Huntington answered back with four 3-pointers of its own, two of which were by senior guard Katie Reilly, propelling the Blue Devils to a 40-24 advantage to open the second half.

“They came out with a lot of passion, especially on a night like this, so we should’ve taken them more seriously,” Reilly said. “I thought we played pretty good, but I think we could’ve played stronger defensively. All in all, we did all right.”

Battling the boards all night for the Bulls was Nina DeStefano, who rebounded several missed shots for putbacks. DeBernardo nailed her second trifecta of the game as Smithtown East outscored Huntington 13-12 after eight minutes, to trail 52-37 heading into the final quarter.

Nina DeStefano fights for possession under the board. Photo by Bill Landon
Nina DeStefano fights for possession under the board. Photo by Bill Landon

Huntington senior Brooke Baade sparked the offense with a field goal and her third 3-pointer of the game, and Heuwetter banked a pair of field goals to put a stop to the Bull’s late-game surge.

Schultz swished a pair of 3-pointers late and DeStefano netted two field goals, but it was too little too late for Smithtown East, as Huntington took the win to finish 12-1 in League III, and tie Riverhead for a share of the league title.

“I knew that they were going to be tough,” DeStefano said. “They’re in first place in our league for a reason. It was a struggle under the boards because they have a lot of good rebounders.”

Schultz led her team in scoring with 15 points, while DeStefano followed close behind with 12 and Redmond tacked on 10.

“Nina DeStefano had an outstanding game for us on senior night, Tatiana Jean did a great job rebounding the ball and Ceili Williams, our sophomore point guard, had one of the best games she’s had for us, and sky’s the limit for her,” Smithtown East head coach Tom Vulin said. “So as a team, we played well together. We cut the deficit to 11 so a couple of turnovers here and there could’ve made it closer.”

Atop the leaderboard for Huntington was Heuwetter with 16 points, Reilly netted 14 and Baade banked 11.

Anna Gulizio drives to the rim. Photo by Bill Landon
Anna Gulizio drives to the rim. Photo by Bill Landon

“They’re a tough team — they’re in third place in our conference and they have a lot of good shooters,” Heuwetter said. “Our defense could’ve been better. They were popping threes like crazy.”

Clinching a playoff berth the week before, No. 19 Smithtown East opened the postseason with an out-bracket game against No. 14 Hauppauge, but results were not available by press time.

“Because of all the snow, our playoff season starts tomorrow, so we’ll know sometime tomorrow morning who we’ll face,” Vulin said following the loss. “I’ll get as much information as I can and we’ll go after it.”

Heuwetter said her team suffered a bitter defeat deep into the playoffs last year, so the Blue Devils are looking for a comeback performance heading into this year’s postseason. Huntington goes into the postseason as the No. 6 seed, and will host No. 11 Half Hollow Hills West on Friday at 5 p.m.

“We really want it,” she said. “Last year we went deep into the playoffs, but we were really upset that we couldn’t get farther, so we’ll use last years’ playoff defeat as motivation to get as far as we can this year.”

Smithtown West’s Sarah Harrington dribbles inside against Lady Cougars sophomore Abby Blount. Photo by Joe Galotti

By Joe Galotti

On Tuesday night, the Centereach girls’ basketball team gave its five seniors the spotlight, honoring the players in a pre-game ceremony before the club’s regular season finale. But, late in the game’s fourth quarter, it was a senior from visiting Smithtown West that stole the show.

Senior forward Mackenzie Heldberg converted a key floating jump shot with under a minute to go, to help her team secure a 47-44 victory over the Cougars.

“You can count on Mackenzie whenever the game is on the line,” Smithtown West head coach Katie Combs said. “She put that little floater in that sealed the game for us, and it’s a testament to her as a player.”

Also helping the Bulls steal a win on Centereach’s senior night were juniors Gabby Horman and Sarah Harrington. The duo combined for 24 points and 20 rebounds in the contest.

Junior Cassidy Treanor and senior Lauren Meigel both reached double-digit points for the Cougars in the game. But, according to Centereach head coach James Steigele Jr., his team did not play collectively, and shoot well enough from the field to come away victorious.

“Our defense was good, and we rebounded well,” he said. “But they were hitting their shots, and we unfortunately weren’t tonight. We had good looks, too.”

Smithtown West’s Gabby Horman moves into the paint against Centereach’s Lauren Meigel. Photo by Joe Galotti
Smithtown West’s Gabby Horman moves into the paint against Centereach’s Lauren Meigel. Photo by Joe Galotti

Even with their inconsistent shooting, the Cougars still held a 32-29 lead with 4:30 remaining in the third quarter. But Smithtown West finished out the stanza strong, ending the quarter on a 10-0 run. Harrington helped spark her team, forcing multiple turnovers and frequently making her way to the basket on offense.

The Bulls took a seven-point lead into the final quarter, and seemed poised to run away with the contest. Centereach would have none of that, as the team quickly worked its way back into striking distance. With 1:28 left in regulation, Meigel hit a layup that trimmed Smithtown West’s lead to just one point.

At this point, all of the momentum seemed to be on the Cougars’ side, but the Bulls managed to stay composed.

“We faced a lot of adversity tonight in the second half, but we just kept pressing harder,” Harrington said. “We knew we had to play defense to win the game.”

Centereach was held off the scoreboard in the game’s final minute, and Heldberg’s late basket helped stabilize things for Smithtown West. On the Cougars’ final possession, the team’s comeback hopes were officially ended by a Horman blocked shot.

“This game wasn’t the cleanest you could’ve watched, but the girls that I coach have a tremendous amount of resolve,” Combs said. “I really appreciate the efforts they gave tonight.”

Despite the loss, Centereach still put together a memorable senior night. Before tip-off, Steigele Jr. took to the microphone and shared kind words about seniors Meigel, Erica Medina, Alyssa Sokolowski, Nicole Fellone and Katrina Gangji.

“That moment meant a lot,” Gangji said. “I’ve played on this team for three years and my teammates mean so much to me. It’s meant a lot being a Centereach Cougar, and the fact that it’s almost over is really upsetting.”

Fellone, who tore her ACL in a recent game against North Babylon, was given a chance to start, at the request of the team’s players and their parents. In a great showcase of sportsmanship, the Bulls allowed Fellone to record a layup, before she exited her final regular season contest to cheers from the crowd.

Both teams will quickly move on from the emotions of Tuesday’s matchup, as postseason play gets underway. Harrington said after Smithtown West’s victory, that the club is feeling good about itself entering playoff action.

Steigele Jr. also seems to have plenty of faith in his squad.

“We’re definitely confident going into the playoffs,” he said. “Our team was able to get to this point for a reason.”

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Heidi Scarth attempts to maintain possession of the ball between defenders while going up for the layup. Photo by Desirée Keegan

For the first time since 1988, the Ward Melville girls’ basketball team is No. 1.

The Patriots pushed past Brentwood Tuesday, 50-35, to earn a share of the League I title with Commack, which was undefeated until outscored by Ward Melville a week ago, 52-35, to put the Patriots in a position to claim a piece of the prize.

“It is total elation,” senior center Heidi Scarth said of the title. “We had a game plan and we went out there and executed it, and that’s why we won this game. Getting this league championship title was one of our big goals. We’re all so excited and ready for playoffs.”

Kiera Ramaliu passes the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Kiera Ramaliu passes the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Ward Melville jumped out in front 13-0 in the first quarter, with Scarth and sophomore guard Kiera Ramaliu netting four points apiece. The team almost kept their opponent off the scoreboard, but with 16 seconds left, Brentwood sank a field goal to go into the second stanza down 11 points.

Junior guard Taylor Tripptree started the next eight minutes like she did the first, scoring the first two points, but Ward Melville’s defense lost its rhythm, which led five straight Brentwood points. Ramaliu and Tripptree had big blocks to keep the Lions contained, but the team ran into some trouble on the offensive end. Still, the Patriots were up 21-14 heading into the halftime break.

“We were a bit shaky in the second quarter, but we pulled it together,” Tripptree said.

The team was able to outscore its opponent in the third, but by a slim margin, 16-14, increasing the lead to 37-28 heading into the game’s final quarter.

“While we had a couple of rough spots, I think in the end they did what they had to do to win,” Ward Melville head coach Bruce Haller said. “Letting up 35 points against a playoff team like Brentwood is good defense, so we’re pleased. Now our girls are ready to give their best effort on Friday.”

Taylor Tripptree dribbles around an opponent. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Taylor Tripptree dribbles around an opponent. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Tripptree, who finished with a game-high 15 points, said it was Haller’s halftime talk that motivated the team to push harder in the third and fourth quarter.

“Coach told us to pick it up, and we all came together as a team,” she said.

Scarth, who netted nine points, said she agreed that team is a force when the current group of girls she plays with unites, like they did when they outscored Brentwood 13-7 in the fourth quarter for the win.

“I think that making that extra pass, looking for your teammates and non-selfish playing is what really made us league champs,” she said. “I think we have a really strong group of girls that play as a team.”

Scarth said her team is ready and prepared for the postseason. The Patriots are the No. 1 seed, and will host the winner of the No. 16 West Babylon/No. 17 Centereach outbracket matchup on Feb. 12, at 6 p.m.

Tripptree said Ward Melville’s 17-1 overall record shows how her team is always working to achieve its goals, and there’s more to be met.

“Getting to this moment is what our first goal was this season,” she said, “Now we will keep going farther, because we’re not done yet.”

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Sean O’Shea moves the basketball around the paint. Photo by Joe Galotti

By Joe Galotti

After suffering its first loss of the season on Saturday, the Northport boys’ basketball team wasted little time in getting back to its winning ways. On Tuesday night, the Tigers jumped out to an early 17-2 lead on visiting Lindenhurst, and never looked back, as they came away with a 55-41 victory.

The win improved the Tigers’ record to 15-1 on the year, and clinched a League II regular season championship for the program. While Northport’s players realize they have plenty of work ahead of them still this winter, the achievement was certainly not lost on the club.

Lukas Jarrett holds possession while looking to make a pass. Photo by Joe Galotti
Lukas Jarrett holds possession while looking to make a pass. Photo by Joe Galotti

“This is a really great accomplishment for us, because we play in probably the best league on Long Island,” Northport senior guard Brennan Whelan said.

Northport senior guard Sean O’Shea echoed his teammate’s sentiment.

“This is huge for us,” O’Shea said. “It’s great knowing that we’ll have a banner up on the wall, and that it will hang there forever.”

O’Shea finished with a game-high 15 points in his team’s win over the Bulldogs, while Whelan dished out 10 assists. The club also got nine points apiece from junior guard Kevin Cryer-Hassett and senior guard Rory Schynder.

In total, 11 different players scored for the Tigers in the contest. Ball movement has been a key for Northport all season long, and on Tuesday the team’s passing and court vision was once again on point.

“We’re an unselfish team by nature, and we also work a lot on passing,” Northport’s head coach Andrew D’Eloia said. “Our guys really do understand that if they move the ball, they get an open shot, and they enjoy playing that way.”

Northport’s veteran group seems to have fully bought into this philosophy.

“We’ve all been playing with each other for a couple of years now, and we always look to make the extra pass, because that’s what makes our offense work so well,” Whelan said.

The Tigers also put together a strong night on their own end of the court, giving up just four points in the opening quarter and 12 points in the first half. This allowed Northport to take a commanding 22-point advantage into halftime, and give rest to its starters down the stretch.

Ryan Magnuson makes a play. Photo by Joe Galotti
Ryan Magnuson makes a play. Photo by Joe Galotti

Senior forward Lukas Jarrett was a major catalyst on the defensive end, registering five blocks on the night.

“Our defense started everything tonight,” D’Eloia said. “We just really committed to helping each other, and trying to stay in front of them. We made them take tough shots, and that helped generate our offense early on.”

Lindenhurst outscored the Tigers 29-21 in the game’s final 16 minutes, but was never able to draw within single-digits again. Manny Oyakhilome led the Bulldogs with 14 points in a losing effort.

With a league title now in hand, Northport looks to have a strong finish to what has been a memorable regular season campaign to this point.

“We definitely want to go undefeated [in league play],” O’Shea said. “But we also know that we have to take it one game at a time.”

The Tigers, now 10-0 in League II, will next travel to face off against Walt Whitman on Friday, Feb. 5, at 6:30 p.m. The Wildcats have struggled of late, but D’Eloia is not overlooking the league rival.

“They’re a very well coached and disciplined team, and they would like nothing more than to knock us off,” D’Eloia said. “So we’re going to prepare for that game the same way we’ve prepared for all the other games.”

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Greg Giordano races through the paint into traffic. Photo by Desirée Keegan

It was four years ago that Mike Agostino took over at the helm of the Smithtown West boys’ basketball team, and since then, the team has come full circle.

In 2012, in the Bulls’ last League III game of the season, they traveled to Riverhead to duke it out for the conference title, where Riverhead pulled away with a one-point win, 72-71.

This time, the Bulls, at 10-1 heading into Tuesday’s contest, handily outscored the Blue Waves 64-38 to seal sole possession of the League III title. It was the first time Smithtown West had achieved that feat since 1968, according to Agostino.

“I’m so grateful,” he said. “Winning the league title is almost as good as winning the county championship, because the county title is a result of a tournament, but this you have to play 14 games. Everyone knows us, everyone knows our starters and our bench guys, everyone scouts you, so to be able to win a league championship is so special.”

Nick Grande drives the baseline for a field goal. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Nick Grande drives the baseline for a field goal. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Both teams were slow to start, but Smithtown West junior Greg Giordano kept the Bulls in the game with a free throw at 5:32 to tie it 1-1, and followed it up with a 3-pointer at the 4:54 mark to knot the game at 4-4.

From there, the Bulls charged ahead with senior Matt English knocking in a layup and Giordano netting another trifecta. Seconds later, senior Nick Grande swiveled around defenders as he jumped up to face the rim and tacked on a field goal, to help his team to an 11-4 advantage.

“We came a long way since our first loss in the first of the season against Copiague,” said English, who finished with 10 points and a team-high 11 rebounds. “We’ve really come together. We’re playing like a family.”

Riverhead tacked on a field goal of its own to close the gap to 11-6 after the first eight minutes of play. In the second stanza, Riverhead scored a free-throw point at 3:59 to bring the score to 18-10, and the Bulls held the Blue Waves scoreless until 15.6 seconds, where Riverhead swished a 3-pointer. In that time though, the Bulls tacked on 12 points, and used fouls to keep their opponent at bay, with Riverhead coming up scoreless from the charity stripe at three different appearances.

“We came out firing and we held them to 13 points in the first half, which is tremendous for our defense,” said Smithtown West junior Kyle LaGuardia, who finished with two field goals and seven rebounds.

The Bulls ran away with the game in the third, outscoring Riverhead 22-10.

Smithtown West sophomore Chris Crespo, who finished with a game-high 14 points, five assists and five rebounds, opened the final quarter with a three-pointer, and scored two points off a 1-and-1 opportunity minutes later, to help his team to a 30-point lead, 57-27.

“This is my second year on varsity and I didn’t know it would take off this fast,” Crespo said. “Last year we were alright, but it feels great to see such a big improvement at such a fast pace this year.”

With 4:04 left to play, Agostino called a timeout after a Riverhead travel call, to swap out his starters. Over the next four minutes, Riverhead outscored Smithtown West 11-3, but the Bulls’ bench kept its commanding defense in tact, stealing passes and grabbing rebounds.

Chris Crespo leaps up to the rim. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Chris Crespo leaps up to the rim. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“We played typical Smithtown West basketball,” Agostino said. “We were strong inside, we defended, we took care of the ball and that’s what we said was going to be the key — not only stopping them, but getting the rebound and being able to get it out cleanly without losing it.”

Agostino said he still feels like his team has room to grow, though.

“I don’t feel like we’ve reached our full potential,” he said. “I know that there are kids in that locker room who haven’t played as well as they’re capable of playing, and it’s my responsibility to get them to that point. I’m happy with the way they are right now, and I told them the nostalgic part is really sweet, but once we start practice tomorrow, it’s over.”

The head coach credits his seniors for shaping the team this season, adding that they’re focused on competing, and don’t stop until the buzzer sounds.

That winning mentality is trickling down, the players said, but the Bulls still credited their coach for helping them achieve greater and greater success with each passing season.

“He’s a great leader — knows how to play the game right,” English said. “In the beginning of the season, our first goal was to win the league title and the second goal was to make some damage in the playoffs. We’ve got the first one done, and now it’s onto the next.”

Noah Kepes drives the lane. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Tim Specht reaches for the rim from inside the paint. Photo by Bill Landon
Tim Specht reaches for the rim from inside the paint. Photo by Bill Landon

With two games left to play in the regular season, the Ward Melville boys’ basketball team, at 6-5 in League I, was playing for its postseason life when the team hit the road to take on Commack Tuesday.

The game was close through three quarters, but Commack, also at 6-5 at the start of the game, slowly edged ahead in a game largely decided at the free-throw line, to win 56-45.

The Patriots led by two points after the first eight minutes of play, and Commack enjoyed a one-point lead at the halftime break. Ward Melville senior Mathew O’Hea had the hot hand in the first half, netting four field goals in the first quarter and nine more in the second.

O’Hea said it’s a hostile environment whenever his team travels to Commack.

“It’s always tough to play here — they’ve got a really great fan base,” O’Hea said. “I thought we played hard — we gave it a great effort — but we just didn’t come out with a win tonight.”

With the game tied at 30-30, Ward Melville senior Tim Specht went to the line shooting two and swished both for the lead at the 6:53 mark of the third.

“Commack’s known for their crowd, and getting in our faces when we make mistakes,” Specht said. “So we knew that was coming, and we fell into that trap at the end.”

Noah Kepes drives the lane. Photo by Bill Landon
Noah Kepes drives the lane. Photo by Bill Landon

It was Specht with the hot hand in the second half though. With his Patriots team up by two points, he went to the charity stripe and nailed both opportunities to help his team edge ahead, 38-34, with 1:55 left to go in the third period.

Commack battled back and retook the lead 40-38 to begin the final quarter, and the Patriots would not see a lead the rest of the way. The game, infested with fouls, sent Ward Melville junior Noah Kepes to the line, where he netted both to retie the game at 40-40, but that’s as close as the team would come.

Commack slowly edged ahead, point by point, and outscored the Patriots 10-3 at the charity stripe in the final minutes to win the game.

O’Hea led all scorers with 19, while Specht was next in line for the Patriots with 13 points.

Ward Melville head coach Alexander Piccirillo said his team played without a let-up for all 32 minutes. “We just couldn’t get some shots to fall and we struggled to get stops down the stretch,” he said. “We hit all of our free throws today, we boxed out, we were able to rebound with them, but we turned it over in key spots and when we needed a big shot, we just couldn’t get it to fall.”

Matthew O’Hea shoots. Photo by Bill Landon
Matthew O’Hea shoots. Photo by Bill Landon

Ward Melville takes on William Floyd at home in a must-win game Friday, Feb. 5, at 6:15 p.m., before facing undefeated powerhouse Brentwood on Monday to wrap up the regular season.

To prepare for Friday’s game against Floyd, Piccirillo said his team will prepare like it would for any other game, adding that his players will have two good practices to be fully prepared for the last home game.

“We’ll just mentally prepare — we’ll watch film because its senior night and we need that win,” Specht said. “We will not leave the gym without that win.”

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Sohpomore guard Nora Gabel drives the baseline in Comsewogue's triple overtime loss to Westhampton on Jan. 30. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

It took three overtime periods to decide the Comsewogue girls’ basketball team’s fate Saturday, when the Warriors fell Westhampton, 59-57, after both teams were deadlocked at 41 points apiece at the end of regulation.

“We all wanted it so bad,” Comsewogue junior Stephanie Collins said of winning the game. “We wanted to come out and have a good last home game. We all just gave it our all. We hit some key shots, but I never thought it would go to three overtimes.”

The Warriors broke out to a 10-2 lead early in the game before the Hurricanes picked up speed, taking a one-point lead into the second quarter. Comsewogue battled back to outscore its opponent 13-7 over the next eight minutes, to take a 25-20 advantage into the halftime break.

Junior forward Samantha Collins reached for the rim. Photo by Bill Landon
Junior forward Samantha Collins reached for the rim. Photo by Bill Landon

Westhampton scored five unanswered points to tie the game at 25-25, but Collins went to the line shooting two and swished both to help her team edge ahead 27-25 with just under four minutes left in the third.

In the final seconds of the period, with the game retied at 32-32, the Hurricanes let a fall-away jumper go at the buzzer, which hit its mark to help the team edge ahead 34-32 to begin the final quarter.

Collins went to the line shooting two, and again netted both to tie the game at 34-34 with just over five minutes left in regulation. Collins was 9-for-10 at the charity stripe, and led her team in scoring, along with sophomore Nora Gabel. The two hit the scoreboard with 20 points apiece.

Both teams traded points while the clock unwound, and Westhampton hit a field goal to bring the game to 41-41 with 40 seconds on the clock.

With 3.9 seconds left, Westhampton inbounded the ball only to have it picked off by Comsewogue’s Sofia Colocho. The Warriors immediately called time out.

With time for one more play, Comsewogue junior guard Megan Turner dribbled to the top of the key, but didn’t have a clear look. Head coach Joe Caltagirone barked from the sideline for his team to shoot the ball. Turner didn’t like the look, but let the ball fly. Her attempt just rimmed out at the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.

“It was a great effort, especially on a Saturday morning coming off a loss to Islip that officially eliminated us from the playoffs, but they came out with everything they had,” Caltagirone said. “Westhampton is very good. They’re stingy on defense, so getting them in foul trouble was big, and to be able to come up with some loose ball rebounds.”

Senior forward and captain Toni Ann Velazquez scores. Photo by Bill Landon
Senior forward and captain Toni Ann Velazquez scores. Photo by Bill Landon

Gabel was busy at the charity stripe netting both in her overtime appearance at the line, to help her team take a 43-41 lead with 2:47 left to play. Westhampton answered back with two points from the line, and with 43 seconds remaining, Gabel swished two more free throws to help her team retake the lead, 45-43. The Hurricanes tried to counter with their appearance at the charity stripe, but split  the attempts, to make it a one-point game.

Again, Gabel went to the line with two attempts, but missed her mark on one, pushing her team ahead 46-44 with 17.3 seconds on the clock.

Desperate to score in the final seconds, Westhampton tried to force a shot and ended up drawing a foul as the clock expired. Westhampton senior Madison Skala matter-of-factly sank both of her shots to retie the game at 46-46, forcing a second overtime period.

Two of Westhampton’s starters fouled out to give Comsewogue an edge, but the Warriors had three players with four fouls.

At the 1:36 mark of the next four minutes, Westhampton edged ahead 50-48 as the clock wound down to 15 seconds. Comsewogue’s final shot from the outside missed, but senior captain and forward Toni Ann Velazquez was right there with the putback to kept the Warriors alive for a final overtime session.

“I think we played a hell of a game,” Velazquez said. “Although we didn’t win, I think it was a great way to end our last home game. That our defense was able to hold them down and not foul as much as they did was very important.”

Gabel opened the third overtime period with another pair of free throws for a 52-50 advantage, but Westhampton answered with a pair of field goals to retake the lead, 54-52. Comsewogue freshman guard Julianna Watson took matters into her own hands as she muscled her way to the rim from the paint for a field goal, but the Hurricanes tacked on a three-point play to pull ahead 57-54 with 27 seconds left in the third overtime period.

Sophomore guard Nora Gabel hits her game-tying trifecta. Photo by Bill Landon
Sophomore guard Nora Gabel hits her game-tying trifecta. Photo by Bill Landon

As the clock wound down to eight seconds, Gabel drained a three-pointer to tie the game, and Westhampton immediately called for a timeout.

“I don’t even know what set that up,” Gabel said. “It’s not a set play, but it was pretty hectic out there, so I dribbled over and found an open shot. We needed three to tie it up, so I went for it, and luckily, it went in.”

In the little time remaining, the Hurricanes inbounded the ball and threw deep to the paint, finding the net as the buzzer blared to win the game 59-57. Comsewogue fell to 3-8 in League V, while Westhampton improved to 7-4.

“We had a couple of miscues early that cost us some opportunities early in the game,” Caltagirone said. “But it was a great game, a clutch shot by Nora for that three, so it was a total team effort.”

Behind scoring leaders Gabel and Collins, Velazquez finished with eight points while Colocho netted five. Watson and Turner rounded out the scoring banking two points each.

Comsewogue will close its season on the road on Feb. 8 against Sayville. Tipoff is at 4 p.m.

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The Salvation Army youth league begins Feb. 3 and will take place every Wednesday. File photo by Kevin Freiheit

Northport has announced year-round basketball divisions for boys and girls for third-grade to eighth-grade.

Final divisions will depend on enrollment, but each season will be 10 weeks, beginning Feb. 3.

Enrollment is $140 per player, and games will be every Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Salvation Army Gym at 319 Clay Pitts Road in East Northport.

Teams of three to four players will play three 10-minute games every week, and every player gets a reversible jersey with enrollment.

There are no coaches, but official and certified referees will be at every game.

The 3-on-3 games will heighten the awareness of applying skills in game-like settings where players will have an increased repetition set on both the offensive and defensive side of play. Through each game, players will be able to address skills that are often overlooked in a 5-on-5 setting.

Since there are no coaches, young players are forced to rely on their own instinct and abilities which facilitates quick growth and development. It is difficult to hide in 3-on-3, so everyone participates. There is an emphasis on fundamental skill sets and an increased competitive advantage.

Some topics addressed in 3-on-3 basketball include movement with and without the ball, screening action, individual and team defense, offensive spacing patterns, and the ability to read and react to players.

The program is geared toward providing all players an opportunity to enhance player development in a supervised, small, controlled setting while actively engaged in a safe and healthy environment and is directed by Long Island standout Ralph Rossetti.

Rossetti has been the recreational director and trainer for the Salvation Army since 2013, and has been training basketball players at the Army since 2008. At the Salvation Army, Rossetti has worked with dozens of boys and girls from the youth level through high school as well as a number of NCAA and professional players.

Registration can be done as a team or individually.

Space is limited, but athletes can register online at www.northportyouthbasketballclub.com/p/3-on-3-basketball-registration.html.

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By Bill Landon

Behind Centereach junior Cassidy Treanor’s 13 points, the Cougars held off a third-quarter charge by Newfield to defeat their crosstown rival 37-24 on their own court Tuesday.

Newfield’s Maria Daume races to the basket. Photo by Bill Landon
Newfield’s Maria Daume races to the basket. Photo by Bill Landon

Centereach broke out to an early lead, 12-5, as Treanor led her team in the opening quarter by scoring a pair of field goals and a three-pointer at the buzzer.

The Cougars controlled the tempo of the game early as senior Katrina Gangji dominated the boards with 11 rebounds on the evening.

The Wolverines fought back and managed to close within six points, mainly due to senior Maria Daume’s two field goals and sophomore Emily Diaz’s three-pointer with 4:55 left in the second period, but the team still couldn’t come any closer than that until the third quarter.

Diaz said her team tries to forget what has happened in the past and only focus on fixing their mistakes. “At the half, coach told us we had to mark up better, hustle back and finish on our shots,” she said. “But it’s always fun playing against them because we’re all good friends.”

Centereach sophomore Erin Tuomey also made her presence known down low with an impressive rebounding performance under the boards.

“Our team had good communication,” she said. “Everyone was talking and I think we were getting in their heads.”

Trailing 20-12 opening the second half, Newfield abandoned its zone defense and went man-to-man, which caught Centereach off guard.

“It’s pretty tough,” Newfield senior Muariana Milano said of the crosstown competition. “People talk about it so much, but it’s a rivalry — everybody knows each other. We usually play zone, but coach told us to get up in their face and we’re not used to playing like that.”

The Wolverines’ swarming defense turned the tables as Centereach struggled for open looks, forcing them to shoot from outside.

Centereach’s Cassidy Treanor drives the baseline. Photo by Bill Landon
Centereach’s Cassidy Treanor drives the baseline. Photo by Bill Landon

“We cut it to four points near the end of the third quarter, but then I think we lost a little energy,” Newfield head coach Jamie Santiago said. “We were dead tired going man-to-man the whole time to try to get back in the game.”

Newfield clawed back from another deficit to trail 29-22 to open the final quarter, but didn’t come any closer the rest of the way.

“Our team tends to play to the other team’s speed, and when that happens, the coach always tells us to slow down,” Treanor said. “Coach told us at the half that we play our best when we play our game, and that’s when you get the win.”

Centereach made an adjustment in the final eight minutes of play, and was able to hold Newfield to just two pints as a result, while Gangji, Treanor and senior Erica Medina combined for eight points to put the game away.

“Defensively, we played very, very well in the first half,” Santiago said. “If we could have made a couple of easy layups and a few free throws, the score would’ve been a little closer.”

Centereach head coach James Steigele said the crosstown rivalry is important.

“It’s always an important game, because both teams come out to play and they play hard,” the coach said. “It’s always a nail-biter.”

With the win, Centereach improves to 6-4 in League III, while Newfield falls to 2-8. With four games remaining in regular-season play, the Cougars are back in action Friday night when they hit the road to take on Huntington at 6:15 p.m. The Wolverines host West Islip on Thursday, Jan. 28, with a 5:45 p.m. tipoff scheduled.

Comsewogue's Tyler Timpanero leaps up to the rim and scores. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Harborfields’ boys’ basketball team remains undefeated as the Tornadoes took down Comsewogue in a blowout victory, 69-35, in League V basketball action Tuesday night. The Warriors struggled to keep pace, and despite a third quarter rally, Harborfields was too much to handle.

“We caught them a little flat when we came out, but Comsewogue opened the second half and played like we’re used to seeing,” Harborfields head coach John Tampori said. “My guys, they come to play every day and tonight we shot the ball really well.”

Harborfields' Robert Pecorelli battles Comsewogue’s David Heller on the glass. Photo by Bill Landon
Harborfields’ Robert Pecorelli battles Comsewogue’s David Heller on the glass. Photo by Bill Landon

Harborfields led by 10 after three minutes of play, with the Tornadoes finding its three-point rhythm. Harborfields senior guard Robert Pecorelli led the way with four three-pointers, followed by senior guard Malcolm Wynter, who drained three, all in the first quarter, to help the Tornadoes gain momentum and break out to a 34-9 advantage after eight minutes of play.

“We didn’t expect to win by this much,” Wynter said. “We’re in a tough league, but when we play our best we can score and we can stop a lot of teams.”

The Tornadoes’ defensive pressure was relentless from the opening tipoff, and the Warriors struggled to clear the ball. Harborfields junior forward Alex Merhige owned the boards as he led his team with 14 rebounds, highlighted by a two-hand jam on a putback.

From there, the Warriors dug their hole deeper, managing just five more points to the Tornadoes’ 15, for a 49-14 halftime score.

The Warriors opened the second half unlike the first, as their defense came to life, grabbing rebounds while mixing in several fast breaks. Comsewogue senior forward Dylan Cervini led the way, nailing a pair of three-pointers and a free throw for seven points, as teammate David Heller, a sophomore forward and center, banked four. Comsewogue outscored its opponent 16-7 in the third, to begin the final quarter down 56-30.

“We had to keep our intensity up in the second half,” Wynter said. “We obviously slacked off there in the third quarter, but we stayed together, we pushed hard.”

Merhige said his team had to adjust to Comsewogue’s defensive pressure in the third quarter, which proved to be difficult at first.

“They opened the second half guarding us down low, and they boxed out really well and they started grabbing rebounds,” he said. “They came out in the second half and started knocking down threes.”

Harborfields' Alex Merhige scores two points. Photo by Bill Landon
Harborfields’ Alex Merhige scores two points. Photo by Bill Landon

Comsewogue’s rally would be short lived, as the Tornadoes turned up the heat, denying the Warriors a field goal the rest of the way. Comsewogue earned its final five points at the free-throw line.

“We needed better communication on defense and we cleaned that up in the third quarter,” Comsewogue senior guard Travis Williams said. “But we always know what we’re getting from Harborfields. They’re very well coached, so respect to them.”

Joey Carillo, a Comsewogue junior guard, agreed with Williams that Harborfields is a tough competitor and more than his team could handle.

“Coach told us at the half that we needed to work harder, move the ball and trust each other,” Carillo said. “They’re a tough team — if we played like we did in the third quarter, we would’ve had a better game.”

Cervini lead the Warriors with 13 points, followed by Heller with six.

Pecorelli topped the leaderboard with 18 points, Merhige netted 15 and Wynter added 14.

With the win, Harborfields improves to 8-0 in league play, while Comsewogue dropped to 3-5 with four games remaining on its schedule.