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Smithtown High School West

The mighty have officially fallen.

The Commack Boys Basketball team did something nobody had been able to do so far this season – beat the Bulls of Smithtown High School West.

Led by senior guard Mike Gitz, the Cougars dominated the 4th quarter outscoring the Bulls 24-15, in what had been a tight game through three. The final was 68-57. 

Gitz had 12 points in that final period, and it was the second time in two games that Commack dominated a 4th quarter to prevail against a quality league opponent. The Cougars beat the Northport Tigers 62-55 last Saturday in what was also a tight game until late.

With the win, Commack pulls into a tie for first place with Smithtown West, widely regarded as one of the top teams on Long Island, both with records of 10-1 in Conference I play. After dropping their opener to Bay Shore six weeks ago, the Cats have now won 10 in a row.

“The kids really executed the game plan tonight and hit some big shots,” said Commack Head Coach Peter Smith. “This was the first of four road games for us in what will be a tough stretch and I’m glad we started it with a huge win.”

Huge was the theme of the night, and herculean the task of containing Smithtown West Center Patrick Burke, who is 6 feet, 8 inches tall. Burke averages 20 points a game. Commack played a defense by committee against Burke with Cougar power forward Ethan Meisel in the role of committee chair.

“I went out there expecting a battle,” Meisel said. “I just kept focusing on keeping him (Burke) out of the paint. I watched a lot of film leading up to this game to learn what moves he would be looking to make and that helped me in stopping him.”

Burke had 19 points but only three in the 4th quarter.

“Ethan did a great job on Patrick,” Smith said. “But I think we played great help defense tonight, bringing over an off guard to try and keep him bottled up.”

Also bottled up, at least in the 1st half, was Cougar junior guard Nick Waga. Not because of great defense by the Bulls, but because he picked up two early fouls and Smith decided to let him sit. 

 But the fiery Waga started the 2nd half with a bang. With West leading 26-23, he came off a backdoor curl to hit a corner three and tie the game just 10 seconds into the 3rd quarter. That hoop was his first points of the game.  

Waga would finish with 12 points in the quarter, the last three of which coming on a buzzer-beating three pointer to give Commack a 44-42 lead heading into the deciding fourth. He started and ended the period the same way — with long range bombs.

“I had fresh legs and wanted to bring a bunch of energy,” said the 6 foot, 1 inch tall Waga, whose black and blonde wavy coif make him easy to spot on the court. “My teammates motivated me not to put my head down when I was sitting in the first half and we all kept pushing each other to get this win.”

As it was Waga who had fresh legs in the third, it was Gitz who caught fire in the fourth. He hit a runner in the lane to start the period and on the next possession faked out his defender Lorenzo Rappa so badly that Rappa flew in the opposite direction and was absorbed by pick-setting Cougar Chris McHugh, as Gitz casually hit a wide-open three. 

It gave the Cougars a seven-point lead and this move, that drew “oohs” and “aahs” from both Cougar and Bull fans alike, might have been the death blow to Smithtown West’s dreams of an undefeated season. With six and a half minutes remaining, the Bulls called a timeout as the buzz of the crowd was still loud enough to drown out West’s pep band. 

“I work on that move a lot,” said Gitz, who led all scorers with 21. “I try to use jabs and pump fakes to get the defenders off balance. It was great to hear the crowd after making that play and both the basket and the crowd was a big swing of momentum for us.”

The momentum would stay with Commack, as West would never recover. The Cougar lead ballooned to 14 with three minutes remaining in the game when Gitz drove past Rappa in the lane for a layup.

The rest of the game rendered a formality, Commack gladly went to the free throw line to seal it, and for the second straight game, they closed out a quality conference foe and arch enemy.

“We stay true to our game plan and execute down the stretch,” said Gitz on his team’s ability finish off opponents. “Plus, I think we want it more.”

Now the Cougars truly have what they wanted – a victory over the number one ranked team in Suffolk County and first place in the league with six games to go. Is he thinking about meeting the Bulls in playoffs next month?

“We are going to enjoy this win tonight and focus on West Islip on Thursday,” Smith said. “The ship keeps on going forward and you hope for the best.”

On this night, Smith and his Cougars not only beat the best, but now find themselves in a position to merit consideration as the best.

A malfunctioning fire alarm caused a 48-minute delay in the middle of the third quarter of the Smithtown West vs. Northport boys basketball game on Saturday.

A close game before the stoppage turned into a rout for the Bulls, as they won 68-41. Northport was ahead 31-27 at halftime and were down by only four with 3:07 left in the third quarter when the alarm bells began to sound.

Smithtown West exploded with 31-8 after play resumed, including an 11-0 run to end the third quarter.

This was a part of a 19-2 run that spanned the end of the first half to the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.

Jack Melore scored 26, including 4 three pointers, for the Bulls who remain undefeated at 5-0. Center Patrick Burke had 18 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks for West. Northport’s Andrew Miller scored 18 points, 14 in the first half, as the Tigers dropped their first game of the year and are 4-1. Brendan Carr had 8 points and Emmett Radziul had 6 for Northport.

As for the delay, first responders from Hauppauge and Central Islip were on the scene within minutes and approximately a dozen fully-uniformed firefighters investigated the premises accompanied by Smithtown Central School District officials. It was determined that a faulty smoke detector caused the alarm — the second time in a week such a situation had occurred.

According to SCSD Director of Facilities Dan Leddy, the fire alert system for the entire district is currently being modernized with Smithtown West High School the first building to have a new fire safety monitoring system installed. This work should be completed district-wide before the end of the 2022-23 school year.

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Smithtown West hit the mats at the Carl T. Korpi wrestling invitational at Miller Place High School Dec. 10 with championship performances by Joseph Jaeger at 102 pounds, pinning his opponent in the championship final at the 3:09 mark. 

Teammate Jack DiMaggio, at 138 pounds, defeated his opponent by a 4-2 decision, and Kenneth Leverich, at 145, ended it early, winning his match with a pin at the 1:23 mark. Michael Teplansky defeated Zack Wilson of Shoreham Wading River by major decision.

In consolation finals, Anthony Santaniello, at 145, defeated Vincent Zimmerman, of Centereach, and Philip Reneiris pinned his opponent at the 4:44 mark.

The Bulls are back in action when they travel to West Islip for a league matchup Dec 14 with the first bout scheduled for 6 p.m.

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.

The Northport boys golf team’s wildly successful regular season campaign came to a close on Thursday, Oct. 13, at Indian Hills, as they trounced Smithtown West, 9-0, and in doing so, took a share of the League III title.

Sophomores Brodie Douglas and Jack Trizzino led the Tigers with 2-over 38s as the Tigers shot a season-low of 210 on this particular course, despite misty and windy conditions.

“We are playing well as a team,” said Head Coach Brian Sundberg. “I hope it carries over to the Counties.”

Douglas, paired with his brother and team captain Paddy, made a spectacular chip on the undulating and difficult third hole that landed a foot away from the cup. He tapped in for par, as most of his fellow golfers were taking fives, sixes and sevens on this hole.

“I think that hole helped me settle into the round,” Brodie said. “It was definitely a great par.”

“It feels amazing to be league champs,” Brodie added. “We have worked so hard for it as a team this year and the work has paid off.”

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On the menu for the Oct. 8 homecoming at High School West was plenty of food, fun and touchdowns. The Bulls were winners defeating Centereach, 34-12.

Quarterback Brayden Stahl threw multiple touchdown passes to wide receiver Jacque LaPrarie in the win. 

The day began with the annual Homecoming Celebration Carnival sponsored by Smithtown High School West leadership. Games, prizes, food, T-shirt sales and more were all part of the day for the district’s K-8 students, courtesy of the high school’s clubs and organizations.

Before kickoff middle school cheer teams joined the varsity cheer team in a show of support as the Bulls ran onto the field. 

At halftime of the game, High School West cheerleaders and the Whisperettes kickline team performed.

Homecoming King and Queen Joseph Carpenter and Brook Lynn DaSilva also were announced at the half.

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The Bulls of Smithtown West (2-3) traveled to Eastport-South Manor (3-2) in a volleyball matchup and smelled blood after winning the first two sets, 25-22 and 25-21.

But the Sharks thwarted the sweep winning game three, 25-22, to force a game four. Neither team had more than a three-point advantage until the Bulls dominated at net late in the fourth set to win the match, 25-19, in the 3-1 victory Sept. 20. 

Pictured clockwise from above, Smithtown West senior Jack Setter sets up the play; point Smithtown West; Smithtown West junior Anthony Fedor keeps the ball in play; Bulls battle at the net; Smithtown West senior Matthew Fisher with a kill shot for the Bulls; Fedor keeps the ball in play; and Smithtown West senior Matthew Fisher from the service line. 

By Steven Zaitz

Have you ever gotten gum stuck to the bottom of your shoe? 

It’s nearly impossible to get rid of.

The Smithtown West football team simply would not allow itself to be removed from its opening game against the Northport Tigers on Friday night, Sept. 9, as they battled back from multiple double-digit deficits against the heavily favored visitors.

However, the Bulls fell one bullet short, and Northport’s star quarterback, Owen Johansen, put the game away with a long run that gave the Tigers a first down in the final minute and allowed them to escape Smithtown with a 34-30 win.

The contest’s opening few possessions didn’t give off any signs it would be a close game. The Bulls went backwards on their first offensive possession and after a three and out, punted to Northport and their versatile weapon “Every-Down” Emmett Radziul, who took the kick 31 yards deep into Bulls territory. Radziul would also have an interception in the second half.

Three plays after Emmett’s punt return, Tiger tight end Andrew Miller pranced into the end zone with a 21-yard touchdown catch, one of Miller’s two touchdowns in the first quarter. When running back Andrew DeMarco plunged in from the two-yard line midway through the second quarter, Northport took a 20-3 lead.

“It felt amazing to score my first varsity touchdown,” Demarco said. “The offensive line definitely played great tonight.”

The Tigers rushed for 230 yards for the game and with five minutes to go in the half seemed to have complete control. But as they did in the 2021 regular season finale at Northport, West fought on.

A kickoff return to midfield by wide receiver Tim Vanderbink breathed some life into the Bulls. Their standout quarterback Brayden Stahl calmly hit wide receiver Jacque Lapraire, who got inside position on defense back Christian Raio, and made a toe-tapping, one-handed catch for a 22-yard touchdown and it was 20-9 with 2:30 left in the half. Raio had good coverage, but it was a perfect pass and a great play by Laprarie, capping a 50-yard drive in less than a minute.

After a Northport three and out, the Bulls got the ball back with under two minutes to play at their own 42. After two medium-sized completions, Stahl hit a wide open Jack Melore, who had gotten past everyone and had himself a 25-yard touchdown catch. It was now 20-16 and the home crowd, that up until that point had been reduced to a dull murmur, were shaking the bleachers with delight.

“We can’t let guys run free like that behind our defense,” said Northport Head Coach Pat Campbell.  “I think they have a very underrated team and (Stahl) is a very good quarterback, but defensive breakdowns like that is stuff that we are going to have to clean up. It can’t happen.”

All Suffolk Tiger linebacker and team captain Tim Cleary led the team with six tackles and along with Miller, defensive end Matt Diaz and defensive linemen  Justin Macke and Mason Hecht, put heavy pressure on Stahl from the opening whistle. The senior quarterback for West would finish with 19 for 32 with 267 yards passing and three touchdowns.

“We gave up a few long passes in the second half, but our run defense was great the whole game,” Cleary said. “We’ll polish our coverages in practice this week for sure.” 

The Tigers defense got a respite to start the second half and the offense did a great job in keeping the suddenly smoking hot Stahl seated firmly on the bench. Johansen engineered at 13 play, 64 yard drive which included four 3rd down conversions and was capped off by the first of running back Giancarlo Valenti’s two second half touchdown runs. It put the Tigers ahead 27-16 and chewed up the first six minutes of the third quarter. Northport fans could relax again with a two-score lead, right?

On Northport’s very next possession Johansen, who had 106 yards passing and 98 yards on the ground, had a pass deflect off of Miller’s hands and into the arms of Lapraire and the Bulls again took to the comeback trail. Stahl took over at his own 38, hit four completions in a row and gave the ball to tailback Brian Hope to close the deal, which he did with a four-yard touchdown run off right tackle. With 10:30 remaining it was 27-22 — again a one-score game.

Valenti would answer. After an electrifying quarterback draw by Johansen went for 38 yards, the junior tailback would dart up the middle for his second touchdown in less than 10 minutes. Valenti finished with 91 yards rushing, 22 receiving and 2 TDs. This one put the Tigers up 34-22 and the Bulls were finally toast.

Except they weren’t.

Stahl would hit on a 37-yard bomb that got the ball to the Tiger 12. On the next snap he rolled to his right and threw what looked like a damaging interception into traffic in the end zone. But it was deflected twice and somehow ended up in the belly of Bull running back Nick Briffa for an extremely serendipitous touchdown for Smithtown. It was now 34-30 Northport after Stahl converted a two point try. The pendulum had swung West once again.

But it was Johansen, who made the keynote to Miller on the opening drive, put the final imprint on it as well. On a waggle keeper right, O.J. rumbled down the Northport sidelines for a gain of 26, carrying half the Bull defense on his back for the last 10 yards. The Tigers ran out the clock and finally cleaned the gum off their cleats.

“We need to read our keys on defense a lot better going forward,” said the never-satisfied Campbell. “We can’t let people run down the middle of the field like that, but it’s the first game. We ran the ball for 230 yards, so obviously I’m happy with that, and Owen hit some big time passes early on to Andrew and I think that opened up our running game. We have some work to do for next week.”

Northport will host Half Hollow Hills East for its home opener on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The Thunderbirds beat the Tigers last October, 35-21.

Seniors from Smithtown High School East and Smithtown High School West filled their schools’ football fields as students for the last time on Thursday, June 23.

Smithtown East’s commencement ceremony celebrated the graduation of 401 students and featured the district’s Assistant Superintendent Kevin Simmons, who was the principal at East for 3 1/2 years before moving to the district office, as the keynote speaker.

The two student speakers were Aman Mistry, who was voted by fellow seniors as the honor speaker, and Trishaulla Kanhai, who is president of the Class Council.

At Smithtown West, 358 students received their diplomas. Superintendent Mark Secaur addressed the students. National Honor Society President Tyler Nagosky was chosen by his classmates to speak at the ceremony and co-presidents Hunter Hayes and Madison Hilman also delivered speeches.

It took the Comsewogue Warriors four minutes into the fourth quarter to take the first lead of the game only to have the Bulls of Smithtown West retie the game at 6-6 on the ensuing possession.

With 4 minutes, 5 seconds left on the clock, James Krieg stretched the net to edge ahead by one when Michael Katz on a defensive take away scored the insurance goal a minute later to win the Suffolk Class B boy’s lacrosse final, 8-6, at East Islip High School June 1. 

Katz scored three goals in the victory, Dylan Rocchio had two goals and an assist and teammates Brayden Arias, Thomas Kennedy and James Krieg each scored. Adam Wachholder had back-to-back saves in the closing minute for seven stops on the day. 

The win propels the Warriors to the Long Island Championship round where they’ll face Garden City at Hofstra University June 4 with a 3 p.m. start.