The Kings Park defense did something of a rarity on March 20 against Half Hollow Hills East.
They scored four points on two safeties. That’s a pretty neat trick.
Unfortunately for the Kingsmen, Hills East superstar Quarterback Leisaan Hibbert rushed for four touchdowns, as the Thunderbirds cruised to a 35-4 victory in this non-league matchup in Kings Park on Senior Appreciation Day. Touchdowns are much better than safeties.
The Kingsmen, having drawn two tough matchups to start the season, are now 0-2 and have been outscored by a combined 93-10. They lost this year’s opener to Sayville in a rematch of the 2019 Suffolk County Division III semifinal playoff game. In so many ways, that playoff game seems like it was a 100 years ago.
As for Hills East, in their two games, Hibbert has rushed for seven touchdowns with three against Malverne and four on this day against Kings Park. He rambled for 195 yards against the Kingsmen, running around, through, and over the K.P. defense in a variety of ways. The Kingsmen had no answer for running backs Jared Gallub and Kris Tillis either, as the Thunderbirds rolled up over 300 rushing yards on the afternoon. Tillis took the second play from scrimmage 45 yards for a touchdown and Hills East never looked back.
On this spring-like Saturday, the artificial turf and the sun might have been a factor in conditioning, but both teams had to play on the same field. The Kingsman simply got their crowns handed to them.
Kings Park starting quarterback Jonathan Borkowski was harried and hassled all day, with defensive linemen Obiri and Konadu Boadu setting up shop in the Kingsmen backfield from the opening gun — both of whom refusing to leave. Hills East had six sacks and Middle Linebacker Josh Isaacs had one of those sacks. The leading tackler on Hills East Team was Gallub with 11 tackles. James O’Melia replaced Borkowski in the 4th Quarter but fared no better.
It doesn’t get any easier for Kings Park, as they host Westhampton Beach Friday, March 26. The Hurricanes blew away Centereach 48-0 on Saturday, have won both their games and are ranked fourth in Newsday’s Top Ten Small School poll for all of Long Island.
Kings Park boys lacrosse team was able to stay within striking distance with Mount Sinai through two quarters of play April 12, but the Mustangs exploded in the third quarter, scoring eight goals to put the game out of reach. Mount Sinai defeated the Kingsmen 14-5 at home to remain unbeaten at this midpoint of the season at 8-0 in division, 10-0 overall for second place behind Shoreham-Wading River.
Joey Spallina, the spark of the Mustang offense, split the pipes five times. Meanwhile Bobby Demeo found the back of the cage thrice and Brandon Ventarola and Russel Maher stuck it out with two goals apiece.
Vince D’Alto led the way for the Kingsmen with two goals while Alex Wenzler along with Jack Quaranto both scored as well. Kings Park keeper Christian Michaels had a busy day between the pipes grabbing 19 saves on the day.
Both teams were back in action April 16 where the Mustangs hosted Islip and the Kingsmen hit the road against Babylon. Mount Sinai will be taking the road to Sayville April 23 while Kings Park is hosting Kellenberg April 24. Game times are for 4 p.m. and 10 a.m. respectively.
On paper, Kings Park’s boys basketball team — while sitting at 10-1 in league — should’ve had an easy time against Rocky Point at 2-8 in league, but the Eagles had other ideas Jan. 24. Rocky Point led by 10 points after eight minutes in then took an 11-point lead into the locker room. The Kingsmen sit atop the League IV leaderboard for a reason, and they came out firing in the 3rd quarter outscoring the Eagles 16-7 tying the game twice in the final quarter.
Trailing by two, Kings Park co-captain Andrew Bianco went to the charity stripe then swished both to tie the game at 46 all. Rocky Point forward Gavin DaVanzo was then fouled, sending the junior to the line with 4.6 seconds left in regulation. DaVanzo made one shot but missed the other, and Kings Park inbounded the ball for the final play launching a desperate shot that missed its mark. The Eagles erupted in celebration clinching a 47-46 victory at home.
Rocky Point freshman Ryan Smith led his team in scoring with four field goals and a pair of triples for a team high 14 points. Junior Kyle Callahan followed with 12 while DaVanzo netted a total of 10.
Bianco sat atop the scoring chart for the Kingsmen hitting four field goals and banking nine from the line for a total of 17 points.
With five games left in the regular season, the Eagles retake the court Jan. 26 against West Babylon before playing at home Jan. 30 against Eastport-South Manor. Kings Park has landed solidly in the playoff picture and is also back in action Jan. 30 where they’ll host West Babylon. Both Jan. 30 games tip off at 5:45pm.
Hundreds of Kings Park graduates are confidentially marching off to college and their future.
The Kings Park school district held its annual commencement ceremony June 21 for the Class of 2018 at 6:30 p.m. Joining the more than 300 graduates was Kings Park High School Principal Lino Bracco, who is retiring from the district this year. He was given a standing ovation for his service and dedication to the students.
Eagles pitcher Kevin Sambuco picks up third straight win
By Bill Landon
Hauppauge’s Kevin Sambuco is solid from the mound.
The starting pitcher gave up five hits and two walks and struck out four to lead Hauppauge past Kings Park, 7-2, at home April 9. The win was the third straight for Sambuco, who picked up “W”s in the first games of the Rocky Point and Westhampton Beach series. In an 11-2 victory over Westhampton to start the season, Sambuco tossed six strikeouts over five innings.
“I just make sure I feel like I’m ready to go no matter who I face 60 feet away — it’s really just confidence and trusting your pitches,” Sambuco said. “Solid defensive plays behind me in big moments helped us hold onto the lead and helped us get out cheap.”
Hauppauge (4-3) grabbed an early 4-0 lead off two runs in the first and scores in the second and third.
Sambuco said despite his win in game one against Rocky Point, losing the series gave the team motivation to make bigger moves against Kings Park.
“We played how we were supposed to play,” he said, adding he felt relaxed at the mound given the early advantage. “We scored one to two runs every inning.”
Kings Park (3-3) was held scoreless through three innings, but cut the lead in half in the fourth.
After a base hit by center fielder AJ Fenton, the senior stole second and was brought home with junior second baseman Jayson Sanchez’s sacrifice fly to right field. With one out, third basemen Joe Tardino worked the count and drew the walk looking to keep the Kingsmen alive. The junior took second base on a passed ball at home plate and senior left fielder Rich Kim ripped the ball through a gap to score Tardino, but that was as close as Kings Park would come.
“We’ll need more energy,” Sanchez said. “We were dead from the first inning. But it’s one game, we need to shake this off.”
Kings Park starting pitcher Derek Shreve found himself in trouble in the bottom of the fourth inning with runners in scoring position. He came close to loading the bases, but threw strikes over the plate when he had to. The junior pitched himself out of the jam, stranding both runners on base.
Kings Park threatened in the top of the fifth after catcher Garrett Bower led off with a single. With one out, junior first baseman Paul Gugliuzzo was patient at the plate and drew a walk that sent Sambuco into the dugout. But Hauppauge’s error-free defense sent the next two batters back where they came from to end the inning.
Kings Park helped Hauppauge extend its lead on a wild pitch in the bottom of the inning, and the Eagles tacked on two more insurance runs in the sixth.
Hauppauge’s Brett Boller and Ryan Mackey each had two hits, and Mackey and Jeremy Contreras each had two RBIs.
“We really can’t dwell on the past — we can’t do anything about this one — this game is over,” said Kim, adding he too thought his team lacked intensity. “We’ve got to work hard in practice tomorrow and focus on the next one.”
The two teams face off in Game 2 April 11 at Kings Park at 4 p.m. and wrap up the series April 12 at Hauppauge at 4 p.m.
The sensational senior scorer recorded 33 points for the Kingsmen Feb. 1, leading Kings Park to a 68-41 blowout victory over visiting Rocky Point. Kings Park improves to 17-2 on the year and 13-2 in League V, having won 14 consecutive games.
Schultz, who scored 22 points in the first half, hauled in nine rebounds and four assists in the win. Kings Park had a 12-point lead over Rocky Point at the break, but outscored the Eagles 30-15 in the second half.
“We can score at will,” Kings Park head coach Tom Edmundson said. “We really have an offensive-minded team. We talk about it a lot trying to step up our defensive game. We struggled a little bit in the first half, but we definitely came together in the second.”
Schultz said she likes to shoot from 3-point range, but said she felt she had to attack the basket more against Rocky Point.
“I tried to get to the lane and draw some fouls,” Schultz said. “The refs were calling them, so for me personally, I attacked the lane more.”
In her fifth varsity year with the Kingsmen, Schultz recently surpassed 1,500 career points, hitting the milestone marker Jan. 23 against Hauppauge, where she finished with a double-double on 34 points and 18 rebounds. Two days later, she broke the scoring record for both boys and girls basketball at 1,515 points in a home game against Sayville. The record stood since 2004.
Schultz said but her main focus remains competing hard every game to help her Kings Park team get to where it wants to go.
“It’s crazy,” Schultz said of her achievements. “I’m happy I get to leave my mark on Kings Park, but I just want to win. I just want to make it as far as we can. I want to get a county championship so bad. I feel this year, we have a really good shot. I’m excited.”
Edmundson, who has coached the varsity team for nine years, said it’s remarkable to have a player like Schultz.
“We’ve had some talented teams over the years, but she makes a big difference,” Edmundson said. “She broke 1,000 points last year. She was a little over 1,000 going into this year. She did what she did last year to have a chance to get to 1,500, but she’s blowing it away. She can get up to 1,600 before the season ends, which is not something we really expected.”
Rocky Point’s Clare Levy lead the Eagles with 20 points, all scored in the first half. She accounted for almost half of Rocky Point’s 41 points. The Eagles fall to 7-10 on the year and 4-10 in League V.
Junior guard Sam Hogan contributed 10 points and four assists for Kings Park. She played with multiple injuries, bruising bruised her elbow and hand in the previous game against Westhampton, and breaking her pinky in a win over Harborfields Jan.18. She said she feels pain physically, but that doesn’t stop her from doing what she can to help secure a win.
Edmundson said Hogan is freak of nature.
“She’s the toughest kid I’ve probably ever coached,” Edmundson said. “She’s a competitor. She’s actually a phenomenal soccer player. She’s an outstanding basketball player as well.”
Kings Park will face East Islip on the road Feb. 8 at 3:30 p.m. It’s King Park’s final regular season game before playoffs.
“It’s been a really intense year,” Hogan said. “Since last year, I felt we should have won the league. This year is the year for revenge.”
Gene DeGraw was a fixture in the youth basketball scene in Kings Park, cultivating talented players and poised young men. Now in its fifth year, the Kingsmen hosted an annual tipoff tournament in memory of their former coach. Four schools — Kings Park, Huntington, Plainedge and Commack — played two games each over the two-day event Dec 1. and 2.
King Park head coach Chris Rube met DeGraw when he was 22 years old in his first year teaching in the district. He volunteered as an assistant coach on the varsity boys basketball team, where got to know the seasoned coach. Rube remembers him as much more than a well-versed instructor.
“He was always the epitome of class,” Rube said of DeGraw. “I admired how he was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. I’m a basketball coach after a teacher,and I’m a teacher after father and a husband. His grandson Michael McSloy was on the team. I remember talking to him and really understanding how special that moment was for him. Not only was he a great coach, but a better person.”
Huntington head coach Brian Carey is a Kings Park alumnus who said he practically grew up with the former head coach. Carey said he admired how much DeGraw loved his players.
“Pop was the perfect assistant — he knew the kids,”Carey said. “He knew me; we were both Kings Park guys. No one could have been more perfect for Kings Park basketball.”
The Kingsmen won the Long Island championship title in 2007 when DeGraw was the assistant coach. Carey coached Kings Park for 10 years, from 1997 to 2006, leaving just before the Kingsmen put up their magical season.
“When I got here at Kings Park, the team wasn’t doing so good,” said Carey, who has been coaching for 20 years and was inducted into the Kings Park athletics department hall of fame in 2003. “A few years before I was at Kings Park, the team won four or five games, but the players have been through a system by Gene DeGraw. He was a gentleman and he was the best at getting the kids to come together.”
The now Huntington head coach gave DeGraw the unpaid assistant coach position at Kings Park, having known and graduated from high school with DeGraw’s cousin.
The former assistant coach’s life was cut short due to a heart condition. Aside from being a coach, DeGraw was also a detective in the Suffolk County Police Department.
Bill Denniston, a four-year Kings Park athletic director who was the Shoreham-Wading River athletic director back in 2013 said although he didn’t know DeGraw, he’s heard plenty of good stories.
“From what I’ve heard, he was a well-respected coach,” Denniston said. “It’s always nice to have this tournament to kick off the season in his honor.”
Since 2013, Kings Park has an annual chamber of commerce-sponsored tipoff tournament. This year, the Kingsmen, Commack, Huntington and Plainedge competed over the two-day event.
Huntington beat Commack 62-58 Dec. 1. Blue Devils senior Mehki Harvey led with 17 points, while classmate Nat Amato added 16.
Commack’s top players were
senior Nick Guaglione and junior Aidan Keenan, who scored 24 and 21 points, respectively. They were the only players in double figures for the Cougars.
Kings Park easily outscored Plainedge 69-35. Senior Jason Hartglass and freshman Jack Garside each tallied 11 points for the Kingsmen. Senior Andrew Bianco added seven and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Commack took down Plainedge 60-41 in the consolation match. Game 4
Kings Park edged out Huntington 57-53, winning the tournament title for the third time in five years.
Andrew Bianco, who was named tournament MVP, recorded 23 points and 12 rebounds.
“He’s just tough as nails,” Kings Park head coach Chris Rube said of Bianco.
With eight seconds left, Kings Park was up by two, 55-53, when freshman Jack Garside buried both free-throw attempts to seal the victory.
Kings Park senior guard Zach Wolf scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half. He had three three-pointers in the third quarter.
“It was hard fought,” Rube said of the win over Huntington. “Huntington is pretty talented. Beating them was an achievement.”
Kings Park travels to Islip Dec. 7 for the first game of their regular season. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:45 p.m.
But what was maybe unexpected was six service aces that went along with her 31 assists in Kings Park’s girls volleyball team’s 3-0 sweep of South Side Nov. 11, 25-15, 25-13, 25-16, for the Kingsmen’s seventh straight Long Island championship crown.
Head coach Ed Manly said her floating serve has some spin-drop action to it, making it more difficult for defenders to return. She showed that during a 6-0 run in the second set, which she recorded two aces during.
Holmes received many of senior libero Meagan Murphy’s passes throughout the game to set up Erika Benson (10 kills), Lexi Petraitis (eight kills), Kara Haase (three kills) and Samantha Schultz (three kills).
“Hitters like Lexi, Sam, Kara and Erika — I can count on them to put my ball away,” Holmes said.
The aggressive attack action is what Manly said he prefers seeing from his athletes.
“When we’re aggressive on offense is when we play some of our best volleyball,” he said. “But sometimes through the course of a match, there are ebbs and flows.”
Having multiple weapons on offense and defense is what is leading Kings Park to another state tournament appearance.
In the No. 1 Kingsmen’s 25-13, 25-23, 25-15 shutout of Westhampton Beach Nov. 9, the team relied more on its defense to take the title.
“Our defense and our blocking is what won the game for us today,” said Haase after the Suffolk game, who’d finished with seven kills. “We had so many touches on the ball; [Westhampton] didn’t have one outside hit that we didn’t have a touch. It was just a great overall performance.”
Holmes, who recorded 40 assists, was also quick to point to the team’s defense across the postseason.
“We always have great defense in the back row,” Holmes said. “We have Megan Sticco and a bunch of people I can always count on to get the ball to me. We’ve also been working on a huge block with Erika, and that’s helped us a lot in the past few games.”
While the offense was there too — Murphy finished with 33 digs; Benson notched 12 kills and three blocks; Schultz added eight kills; and Haase had seven — the serving was sloppy for Kings Park in the second set of the county win, according to Manly.
“In that second set Westhampton picked up its defense and we got into some trouble were we didn’t serve particularly well in certain points,” he said. “We had a hard time putting balls away [because] they’re a solid defensive team. We didn’t hit a very high percentage and that’s a tribute to their defense.”
Schultz said she isn’t concerned about what other teams are doing though.
“I knew that if we played the way we’re supposed to play we would definitely get the job done,” she said. “I wasn’t concerned about what they were doing, but what we can control and how we can play. And if we did that we’d get it done.”
Kings Park is confident it can continue to use every weapon in its arsenal while chasing the elusive state title. On top of extending their county and Long Island volleyball reign, the Kingsmen have now racked up 20 wins in a perfect season. Kings Park has also been dominant in sweeping all but one team, Half Hollow Hills West in a 3-1 win Oct. 11.
The team will be tested this weekend, as Kings Park enters the state tournament facing undefeated Walter Panas in the first round at Glens Falls Civic Center Nov. 18.
“We’re really excited to go up there, and we know we can actually do it,” Murphy said. “We’ve been looking at Panas, and we really think we can beat them and all the rest of the teams up there.”
While Holmes will be assisting in any way she can, she said her Kingsmen have all the pieces in place for the checkmate this time around.
“It’s our heart,” Holmes said has led her team to seven county and Long Island wins, and what could lead Kings Park to its first state title. “If we just play to our potential — with our dedication — if we bring our ‘A’ game, we’re tough to beat.”
Megan Murphy dug deep to pull out a win — quite literally Monday.
The senior libero threw herself all over the court to record 31 digs in a 3-0 sweep of Hauppauge Oct. 23, 25-14, 25-17, 25-10, to cap off Kings Park girls volleyball’s second straight undefeated League V season.
“Megan Murphy in the back row was strong on defense,” Kings Park head coach Ed Manly said. “Very rarely are you going to catch her off guard or get her to shank a ball during the course of play.”
With Hauppauge as close as 12-10 midway through the first set, three straight Kings Park points — a Hauppauge out-of-bounds hit, an Alexa Petraitis (eight kills) spike and a Kara Haas dump over — forced the Eagles to call timeout. The scoring streak was only briefly interrupted after the break, and Kings Park slammed home four more to make it 19-11. Murphy closed out serving on the last four of five Kings Park points, until an out of bounds serve made it 24-14 and a Hauppauge service error closed out the set.
“I don’t say this selfishly — we’ve been doing this for so long and I’m so honored to play with this team,” said Petraitis, a senior outside hitter. “Everything I do is because of my team, because of how much support I have. Hauppauge was great at getting the ball up, and we did great staying mentally focused, ready for it to come back over the net.”
Hauppauge was strong serving, and returning it. In the second set, the Eagles were cruising right alongside Kings Park, forcing five ties. A Petraitis kill put the Kingsmen up 6-5, but Hauppauge bounced right back to tie the score at 8-8 and again at 10-10.
“Hauppauge is always extremely scrappy and they make it hard to put balls away,” Manly said. “Every time we tried to tip or do something unconventional they picked it up, but we stayed consistent swinging at the ball and keeping the offense strong.”
Manly said his team worked on defensive drills, like service receives, to prepare for Hauppauge, but he still thinks his team has work to do heading into the postseason.
“That’s my biggest issue with my team — we’re pretty powerful offensively, but we rest on our laurels and let down a little bit on the defensive side,” he said. “But we weathered the storm.”
Senior Erika Benson (12 kills) took the game over, as the middle hitter spiked the ball for a big kill and a 12-10 advantage that gave Kings Park the push it needed.
“I thought when times were getting rough — we were in a little bit of a slump — we worked hard to get out of it quickly to move on to the next play,” Benson said. “Coach tells us to get ready for the next point. We’re never thinking ahead, we’re just thinking of what we can do to get that point.”
Right up the middle the team began clicking, with Murphy returning the serve, Haley Holmes (39 assists) setting up the play and Benson driving shots to the ground.
“Haley Holmes did a nice job setting,” Manly said. “She sets a really consistent ball, she didn’t get called for any doubles, lifts or carries, and she spreads the ball on offense really, really well. Erika Benson overpowers people in the middle, and up the middle with our libero, setter and middle is where our bread is buttered and that pretty much carried us tonight.”
Kings Park is the No. 1 seed heading into the playoffs, which begin Oct. 30. The Kingsmen won’t play again until November thanks to a first-round bye.
“I’m really excited to see what happens with this team,” Murphy said.
Graduating just one senior from last year’s team, Benson said her team’s accomplishments, including helping to win the seventh straight league title for Kings Park, means a lot to the seniors, who are following in the footsteps of those in years past, losing just one regular-season game in their entire careers.
“Being able to keep this League V title is pretty special,” she said. “Every season we have one goal: to win states. It’s always in the back of our minds and it helps us push through to win every game.”
Manly said he doesn’t see the streak weighing too heavily on the girls, because they’re focused on that one goal.
“They’re a pretty relaxed bunch — they’re more focused on their goals than about what’s happened in the past,” he said. “They’re focused on every point, every set and every match. I love my team very much, I think they’re extremely talented and I think the sky is the limit for them as long as they stay humble and hungry and don’t overlook anybody. They have the capability to do some pretty special stuff.”
Kings Park was spreading the wealth on senior night — something that especially pleased senior Jessica Hoyt.
“I’ve been playing with these girls since the seventh grade and not all the seniors play that much,” she said. “So it was great to see them get playing time and a bunch of them scored, who usually don’t, so it was just a really nice day.”
Four girls, two seniors, found the back of the net in the Kingsmens’ 5-0 shutout of East Hampton Oct. 16. The win was especially sweet for those upperclassmen playing in their last home game of the regular season.
“To win on senior night was amazing — I don’t get a lot of playing time, but to win tonight, our season just got even better,” senior defender Zoe Dougherty said.
The game against Hampton Bays though was not what she or any of her teammates expected. Even though the Bonackers are 0-13 on the season, they brought their A game.
“They were not what I expected,” Dougherty said. “Being in last place without a win they pressed us in the first half, holding us to just one goal.”
Kings Park scored in the 28th minute, when Hoyt drilled a Sam Hogan cross pass into the netting to break the ice.
Hogan, a junior, beat out a defender for an open look at the goal two minutes into the second have, and sent her shot into the upper left corner. She scored a solo shot later in the half for a 3-0 advantage.
“We played them once before, so we knew they’d be tough — they don’t ever give up; they swarm to the ball and they play really hard,” Kings Park head coach Bryan LoPalo said. “They played better than their record indicates. [This is] an extremely tough league.”
With senior bench players swapped in for starters, junior Amelia Galdorisi and senior Mary Tuorto also found their way to the scoreboard. Kings Park ends the regular season at 11-3-2 overall with an 11-2-1 mark in League V. The girls soccer playoffs begin with outbracket games Saturday Oct. 21. The first round starts Tuesday Oct. 23.
“That was unexpected, [it was] a little different game they played, but absolutely they challenged us,” Tuorto said comparing the two matchups between the teams. “I was shocked at how our seniors came together. We don’t normally all play together on the field. Tonight it was so important to win this game.”