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Northport Tigers

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By Steven Zaitz

Have a nice weekend!

That is exactly what the Northport Lady Tigers basketball team did, as they swept two games this past Saturday and Sunday in this breakneck sprint of a season.

At home on Feb. 20, they toyed with a short-handed Connequot squad, beating them at home by a score of 74-14.  On Sunday, they traveled to Sachem North and doused the Flaming Arrows, 72-54. The Lady Tigers are now 4-1 and have two games this week against league powers Walt Whitman and Commack.

As they have for most of this year, Juniors Sophia Bica and Sophia Yearwood led the way. Bica had 27 points against the Arrows and Yearwood added 20, including four 3-pointers. 

The game was close for three quarters. With Northport up by six with five minutes to go in the game, Yearwood hit freshman sensation Kennedy Radziul with a beautiful dribble penetration pass. Yearwood then canned two 3-pointers in a row from opposite elbows. The Tiger lead had now ballooned to 12 with only 3 1/2 minutes to go. It was flame-out for the Arrows.

“It is a great feeling to know that we can all have these moments where we can help seal the win,” said the team-first junior Yearwood.  “As a team we were moving the ball well which helped us get open shots. During practices we really focus on trusting one another and playing as a team helps us play with confidence during games.”

Radziul, who comes from royal Northport basketball bloodlines, had a combined 12 points over the weekend after being sideline in COVID protocol. Coach Richard Castellano was excited to see her finally hit the floor. Against Sachem North, she had five assists, six rebounds and three steals to go along with her six points and showed a great deal of poise and all around court awareness – especially for a freshmen.

“She dominated Junior Varsity last year,” said Castellano. “I coached her mother and her aunt and between those two, they have three Suffolk County Player of the Year trophies, so yeah, I’m happy and excited to have her out there.”

Kim Ruck, Kennedy’s mother and Cami Ruck, her aunt were superstar players in the early 1990s and played in an era when Northport won six straight county championships.

“It’s cool to know that I’m playing in the same gym as my mom and aunt,” Radziul said. “Against Sachem North, I was nervous but really excited and it helped to know that my teammates have been in close games before and I’m glad we were able to step up for the win.”

Two other players who have had a hand in many wins, Emma Blanco and Hannah Morawski were honored before Saturday’s game, as graduating seniors and exemplary leaders.

“Emma and Hannah have had to step up as our team captains during this very unusual season,” said Yearwood. “I am impressed with their level of commitment to the team. They have both worked hard to motivate and encourage us.”

“Through the years, I have been blessed with great leaders and role models,” Castellano said proudly. “Whenever we go to youth basketball camps, these girls are so loved in the community and are revered by the elementary school kids, who all want to become Lady Tigers one day. Emma and Hannah are perfect examples of this.”

In the 60-point win on Saturday, Connequot only had seven players available. The Tigers led 20-2 after the first quarter and the remaining three quarters were the same type of story. Yearwood had 17 points and Bica 12. Freshman guard Brooke Kershow came off the bench to score 10 and Junior forward Alexa Vassallo had nine in the rout.

Section XI has installed an abbreviated playoff system for this season that will crown bi-league champions only. As of press time, the Lady Tigers are battling with Walt Whitman, Sachem North and Commack for one of two playoff spots that are granted to League II. They will combine with the top two teams in League I. Longwood, who the Tigers beat in the Suffolk County Championship last year, Sachem East and Ward Melville are the leading contenders in that group.

Northport girls basketball was dealt a blow to their playoff chances when they lost to Walt Whitman Feb. 23 by a score of 45-32. They were outscored 16-4 in the fourth quarter. They will play Commack Thursday, Feb. 25, which will likely be a ‘do or die’ game with respect to gaining a playoff berth.

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With 11 seconds left in regulation, the Northport Tigers boys basketball team clung to a 1-point lead hoping to run out the clock on the road against Bay Shore Feb. 16. But the 1-point victory was not to be, when Bay Shore grabbed an offensive rebound, passed to Jamari Smith-Elie who drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to snatch a 46-44 win.

Northport tasted its first defeat of the season having handily defeating Lindenhurst 80-31 in their season opener and besting Central Islip 55-40 Feb. 15.

Northport senior Patrick Healy scored 3 from the floor, a triple and 3 from the stripe to lead the Tigers with 12 points. Jason Ahlstrand followed with 11 and teammates Nicholas Watts and Jake Santamaria banked 8 points apiece.

In this COVID-19 abbreviated season, the Tigers have five games left in the next eight days as the regular season wraps up Feb. 25, before post season play begins.

The Northport Tigers hit the ground running against Westhampton for the overall Section XI title game. The team was leading from the start to finish, beating the Hurricanes 72-45 March 5 at Ward Melville High School.

Senior Danielle Pavinelli led the way for the Tigers with three triples, four from the floor and a pair of free throws for a team high 19 points. Kerry Dennin, a senior, followed with 13 as did sophomore Sophia Yearwood. Teammate Sophia Bica netted 11 and senior Kelly McLaughlin banked 10.

Northport retakes the court for the Class AA Long Island championship round to take on the Nassau County champion at St. Joseph’s College March 15. Tickets are $10.00 at the door or $8.00 on line here: https://gofan.co/app/school/NYSPHSAAXI

Game time is 4:00pm.

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Northport showed why they’re the No. 1 seed in the girls Class AA semifinal against the No. 4 seed Patriots of Ward Melville, surging ahead by 13 at the half Feb. 22, then stretching that lead to 20 points after three quarters to win it, 69-53, at Centereach High School.

Northport sophomore Sophia Yearwood topped the scoring chart for the Tigers with two triples, four from the floor and a free throw for 15 points. Sophomore Sophia Bica netted 14, and seniors Danielle Pavinelli and Kelly McLaughlin banked 13 and 12, respectively, for the Tigers.

Ward Melville senior Jamie Agostino scored 14 points, as did freshman Julia Greek, and senior Sarah Bucher netted 11 for the Patriots.

Ward Melville finished their season with an impressive 12-3 league record, 17-5 overall.

The win lifts the Tigers to the Suffolk Class AA title game against No. 2 Longwood at St. Joseph’s College Feb. 29.

Tickets are $10.00 cash at the door. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

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Northport led by two in the closing seconds of the game Feb. 25 when Commack intentionally fouled Sean Walsh with six seconds left. Senior Walsh went to the line and swished both to seal the deal for the 49-45 victory in the Class AA semifinal at Longwood High School.

Walsh topped the scoring chart for the Tigers with five triples, two from the floor and his final appearance at the charity stripe for 21 points. Teammate Pat Healy finished with 10 points, and senior Larry Citrola chipped in nine.

Commack senior Spencer Malloy led his team with 17 points, and senior Nick Greco netted 15 to conclude the Cougars’ season at 11-2, 16-5 overall.

The win lifts No. 2 Northport to 13-0 in league, 20-1 overall, and advance to the county finals where they’ll face top seeded Brentwood at Farmingdale State College Feb. 28. Tickets are $10 cash at the door. Game time is 8:30 p.m.



The Northport Tigers outran the Centereach Cougars, leading by 24 points at the half and then cruised to a 76-43 victory at home in a League III matchup Jan. 28. 

Junior Pat Healy topped the scoring chart for the Tigers with nine field goals, two triples and a free throw for 25 points. Senior Larry Citrola followed with 13 while junior Robby Kennedy banked 11. 

Centereach junior Chris Cartolano and senior Matt Robbert netted 13 points apiece while junior Matt Maxwell chipped in five.

Northport remains undefeated in league play this season and sits atop the leaderboard at 10-0, 17-1 overall with two games remaining before postseason play begins. The loss drops the Cougars to 3-6 in their division and 4-13 overall.

Northport retakes the court with a road game against Smithtown West Jan. 31. Tipoff is at 4 p.m.

Centereach is back in action Feb. 1 with a home game against their crosstown rival Newfield. Game time is at 1 p.m.


The Northport Tigers looked to continue their winning ways against the visiting Newfield Wolverines who were on a five-game winning streak and win they did, with a 75-36 victory Jan. 16 to remain atop the League III leaderboard.

Northport senior co-captain Danielle Pavinelli led the way in scoring for the Tigers with four from the floor, four triples coupled with six rebounds to lead her team with 20 points. Senior Kelly McLaughlin, also a co-captain, netted 18 and teammate Sophia Bica banked 10.

Newfield sophomore Megan Spina sank five from the floor along with a triple for 13 points, and Raiyah Reid, the eighth-grader, tacked on 10.

The win lifts Northport to 7-0 in league, 12-3 overall, with six games left before postseason play. The loss drops Newfield to 4-3 in league, 9-3 overall with eight games remaining.


On the road, Northport was too much for Newfield as the Tigers powered their way to a 69-33 League III victory over the Wolverines Dec. 13.

Northport’s Sophia Yearwood stood atop the scoring charts draining five treys, two field goals and a free throw for a team high 20 points. Kerry Dennin netted 13 points and Danielle Pavinelli banked 10.

Raiyah Reid led the way for the Wolverines with six field goals, a triple and two free throws for 17 points. Teammates Megan Spina and Madison Roman tacked on 6 points apiece.

The win lifts Northport to 3-0 and deals the Wolverines their first loss of the season dropping them to 4-1.

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The Newfield Wolverines, 4-3 in the league, hosted the Northport Tigers, who stand 4-2, Oct. 7. 
Both teams looked to move into second place in League III behind Huntington and League III leader Smithtown West.

Sonny Farrell, the junior midfielder, broke the ice for Newfield scoring 21 minutes in when co-captain Lorenzo Selini scored an insurance goal with six minutes left to take it 2-0 into the halftime break.

Northport senior Tage Oster made a game of it heading the ball into the net 10 minutes into the second half but the Wolverines dug and held on for the 2-1 win. Chris Cusimano had four saves in net for Newfield, and Joseph Kearns stopped five for the Tigers.

Northport retakes the field when they host Hills East on Oct. 11, and the Wolverines will try their hand with Hills East on the road Oct. 16. Both games kickoff at 4 p.m.

With 18 minutes left in the game, Ward Melville’s field hockey team retied the game at 4-all before Northport sophomore Shannon Smith scored the go-ahead goal two minutes later. It would prove to be just enough for the Tigers to edge the Patriots to win the game 5-4 at home in a Div I matchup Sept 11.

Northport’s scoring came from five different players. Along with Smith’s goal, senior Kate McLam rocked the box as did her younger sister, freshman Emma McLam. Sophomores Anna Trizzino and Sophia Bica also helped stretch the net.

Courtney Quinn, a senior, had a pair of goals for the Patriots while Amanda Lee and Isabella Paglia both put one in the back of the box.

The win puts Northport at 3-0 early in the season and the Patriots slip to 2-1.

Ward Melville retakes the field Sept. 13 at home in a non-league contest against Southampton, set to start at 6:30 p.m. The Tigers are back action the following day, Sept. 14 where the travel to Sachem North for a 12 p.m. start.