Tags Posts tagged with "Sports"


Rendering of the temporary modular Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, Eisenhower Park. Courtesy ICC

By John Broven

Cricket is an immensely popular game played and watched throughout the world, yet has made minimal impact in the United States. That could change with part of the 2024 International Cricket Council Men’s T20 World Cup finals being held in the U.S. Rather incredibly, Long Island will host eight matches.

The local games will be played at Eisenhower Park, East Meadow, between June 3-12 at a temporary modular 34,000-seat facility, grandly named Nassau County International Cricket Stadium. The site was chosen after NIMBY opposition ruled out first-choice Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. Credit should go to Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman (R) for spotting the opportunities for the Long Island economy and tourism.

T20 cricket is an all-action, spectator friendly and shortened format of the game that is perfect for television. According to the ICC, the 2022 biennial tournament attracted global audiences of 1.28 billion. 

In the T20 format of the game, both teams consist of the usual 11 players. A toss of a coin decides who bats or fields. The team batting first will aim to set a run total with a potential winning score of at least 160, that is eight runs and over. That’s a run feast, rather like baseball’s Home Run Derby. The team batting second has to chase down the target score. If so, it has won the match, otherwise the defending team takes the day. It can make for a nail-biting finish.

To add to the sense of theater, the fielding is spectacular and teams wear colorful uniforms. 

Games will also be played in Dallas and Lauderhill, Florida, as well as exotic locations in the Caribbean. The top-seeded teams out of 20 are India, New Zealand, England (current T20 champion), Australia, Pakistan, South Africa, West Indies and Sri Lanka. After two group stages — one known as the Super 8 round — there will be two semifinals and the final itself, scheduled for June 29 at Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, Barbados.

Local matches

The teams competing at Nassau stadium will include the top-rated India, Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka along with Ireland, Canada, Netherlands, Bangladesh and the United States. 

The matches are as follows:

June 3:   Sri Lanka vs. South Africa

June 5:   India vs. Ireland

June 7:   Canada vs. Ireland

June 8:   Netherlands vs. South Africa

June 9:   India vs. Pakistan

June 10: South Africa vs. Bangladesh

June 11: Pakistan vs. Canada

June 12: USA vs. India

The highlights will be Sri Lanka vs. South Africa, India vs. Pakistan (the big one!) and United States vs. India, but every game will hold interest for the deprived lovers of cricket living in the U.S. 

Official ticket prices have not yet been announced but as long as they are reasonable, I am sure Indian, Pakistani, Irish, Canadian and other expats will flock to Eisenhower Park to support their home countries, along with U.S. cricket fans. There will also be organized viewing areas in other parts of Nassau County.

If cricket is to make a breakthrough here, it will be through the quickfire T20 one-day variant. The upcoming international tournament at the three U.S. venues will help the sport’s profile considerably, with exciting cricket on hand played by the world’s top teams. And Long Island’s gain is the Bronx’s loss.

For more information, go to:

English-born John Broven, of East Setauket, is an award-winning American music history author and a copyeditor with TBR News Media. Part 2 will be an attempt to explain the inner mysteries of the game of cricket. With thanks to Richard Tapp, of Burgess Hill, England.

Jesse Owens. Pixabay photo

“It’s not a question of whether you will hurt, or of how much you will hurt; it’s a question of what you will do, and how well you will do it, while pain has her wanton way with you.”    ― Daniel James Brown, The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

Gazing over the tens of thousands of foreigners entering the arena that would be the 1936 Berlin Olympic games stood the presence of dictator Adolf Hitler. During the midst of the Great Depression, the tyrannical leader of Nazi Germany promised to rebuild his nation to its former glory.

In 1931, the International Olympic Committee permitted the summer games to be held in Berlin as a peaceful way of putting World War I behind the Europeans. Instead, the world saw the flying of Swastikas signaling the rise of Nazi Germany. The games began on Aug. 1, 1936, with Hitler present to watch his country prove its status as a restored national power.  

A rumored American boycott to oppose the fierce Nazi treatment of its minorities, loomed over, though President Franklin D. Roosevelt granted his country’s athletes to participate in these games. 

Watching the ignition of the Olympic flame, stood Jesse Owens or “Buckeye Bullet”. Owens a famed-athlete, grew up in an Alabama sharecropping family, where much of his childhood was riddled with racism. Despite his adversarial childhood, Owens went on to become a talented track and field athlete at Ohio State University. It soon became a goal of Owen’s to dispel the Nazi “Aryan” propaganda promoting others inability to defeat Hitler’s “Master Race” of athletes.  

Hitler’s much-publicized hatred did not shake the American resolve of Owens and the other African American participants. American runners went on to earn 11 gold medals in track and field; six by Black athletes, with Owens earning four gold medals and two impressive Olympic records. 

Later in the games, a fatigued Owens sought rest, with this, he offered the torch to American teammates, Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller suggesting they could compete in 4×100 race in his stead. Instead, Owens was directed to race and Glickman and Stoller, both of Jewish culture, were barred from participating. Concerns arose that American coaches were fearful of upstaging Hitler by using Jewish-American athletes to gain additional medals. 

An aspect of these games often overlooked is the athlete’s personal contention with the economic and social issues of the Great Depression. The economy was poor in Germany and its regime paid for the training and living expenses of its athletes. Many American athletes looked at sports in a secondary manner as they tried to gain essential items to survive. Americans had to contend with twenty-five percent unemployment and a struggling economy.

On Christmas Day, Hollywood released a heartwarming look at the tribulations of the Great Depression through the production of ‘The Boys in the Boat’, written by Brown and directed by George Clooney. Like ‘Cinderella Man’ and ‘Seabiscuit’, this film delves into the intersection of sports and the Depression. 

Even as the New Deal was established by Roosevelt, American people faced difficulties in finding work and buying food. ‘The Boys in the Boat’ is based on the Washington State Rowing Team’s quest to win the gold medal during the Berlin Olympics.  

This film, set on the outskirts of Seattle, chronicles the harsh extent of the Depression. It focused on Joe Rantz, who was abandoned by his family and forced to care for himself. Actor Callum Turner portrayed an engineering student facing the threat of removal from Washington State for being unable to pay his tuition. With holes in his shoes and making a home in an abandoned car, this student desperately sought a chance to improve his economic situation by trying out for his school’s rowing team. 

Joel Edgerton stars as Coach Al Ulbrickson, an uncompromising figure who demanded athletic and physical excellence. The film takes some artistic liberties depicting the triumphs of the team modifying the succession to highest levels of college and Olympic competition to one year as opposed to the three years presented in Brown’s book.  

As a director Clooney scores in the eyes of film, history, and sports fans. He portrays the determination of the team’s coach in utilizing a junior varsity team that would eventually become the best in the nation and would go on to win a gold medal. 

There are many moments that present Rantz’s competitive side. In the film, Rantz found a father figure in the team’s boat builder, a man who took a special interest in his athletic talents by constructing and maintaining their equipment. The builder provided sustinent advice on handling the complexities of life and listening to authority. This film identifies the American-will to persevere, showcasing a team pitted against highly-respected Ivy League crews. The film shares an outstanding story of American resilience to achieve greatness through the masterful stroke of Clooney’s direction.

Ward Melville senior Grace Balocca banks two for the Patriots. Photo by Bill Landon

Ward Melville rattled off six wins in a row to open their ’23-’24 season but were tripped up in a nonleague road game against Shoreham-Wading River, falling to the League VI Wildcats, 39-35, Dec. 29. 

The Patriots, reeling from that loss, pummeled Central Islip on the road in a league matchup defeating the Musketeers, 58-28, in the Jan. 4 contest. 

Ward Melville senior Emma Silverman led the offensive attack with a 3-pointer and four from the floor for 11 points. Senior Grace Balocca netted eight points as did Addison Dellaporta, and teammates Julia Dank, Jaclyn Engel and Kaitlyn McNeil each scored seven points apiece.

The win kept the Patriots atop the League I leaderboard, consolidated by a 43-34 victory against Longwood Jan. 6. 

Kings Park (3-5) squared off against host Hampton Bays (3-4) Saturday night where no decision was made after 32 minutes of play. With both teams deadlocked at 53-53 at the end of regulation, a four-minute overtime period was forced to decide the winner in the League V matchup Jan. 6.

Hampton Bays edged ahead clinging to a four-point lead with 33 seconds left in the overtime period, a lead that shrank to three with eight seconds left. Kings Park senior Thomas Matonti got the call and managed to let a 3-pointer fly that just missed its mark as the final buzzer sounded, with the Kingsmen falling to the Baymen 63-60.

It was the senior core of co-captains that topped the scoring chart for the Kingsmen with Joe Romano’s team high of 23 points, Thomas Matonti did his damage from afar with six triples and a pair of free throws for 20 points and John Flynn added 12.

Having lost to Elwood-John Glenn two days earlier, Kings Park rebounded Tuesday, defeating Islip at home 61-52. The Kingsmen will look to build on that momentum when they retake the court in another league matchup Tuesday, Jan. 16, with a road game against Harborfields. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

Having lost the first three nonleague season games and a league loss two days earlier, Kings Park looked to get back to their winning ways with a road game against the Panthers of Miller Place Thursday afternoon.

Despite trailing after the first eight minutes of play, the Kingsmen sparked to life in the second quarter to take a 17-point lead into the halftime break. Thomas Matonti caught fire with his three-point shooting prowess, draining five triples in the League 5 matchup.

The Panthers struggled in the second half with Kings Park’s swarming defense and unrelenting press, falling 63-32 in the Dec. 14 contest.

The Kings Park senior co-captains peppered the scoreboard with Matonti at the top of the chart with 21 points, John Flynn banking 13 and Joe Romano netting 10.

Nick Frusco carried the flag for the Panthers with five field goals and five from the free throw line, and Matthew Cirrito notched six.

The win lifted Kings Park to 1-1 in division play as they handed the Panthers their first loss of this early season.

Both teams retook the court Tuesday night, with the Kingsmen besting Sayville 47-35. Miller Place fell again against Harborfields, losing the contest 52-49.

— Photos by Bill Landon 

By Bill Landon

Last November, Ward Melville ended William Floyd’s undefeated season, eliminating the Colonials in the semifinal round of the Division I playoffs. The Patriots returned to the scene of the crime Wednesday afternoon looking to pick off Floyd again, but the Colonials had other ideas.

Ward Melville quarterback Ethan Burgos found wide receiver Jackson Weber on a 6-yard pass play for the touchdown in the second quarter to break the ice. Floyd answered three minutes later to make it a 7-7 tie at the half. The Patriots trailed 21-13 in the fourth quarter when Burgos on a keeper found the end zone on short yardage. Burgos would finish it by running in the 2-point conversion to tie the game 21-21.

After an impressive 36-yard field goal to edge ahead, William Floyd running-back Jaden Montalvo ripped a 67-yard touchdown run in the closing minutes to seal the deal, defeating the Patriots 31-21.

The win lifts the Colonials 2-0 while the loss drops the Patriots to 1-1 in the division.

Ward Melville looks to put a “W” in the win column when the team hosts Central Islip Saturday, Sept. 23. Game time is slated for 2 p.m.

— All photos by Bill Landon

By Steven Zaitz

The air was like soup and the astroturf near its melting point, as the Northport Tigers and North Babylon Bulldogs fought a hotly contested battle of attrition to open the football season this past Saturday.

Temperatures soared and tempers flared as momentum swung wildly throughout the course of this sweaty, sticky, hard-hitting mess of a game. There were almost as many players gasping for air, for both teams, as there were empty water bottles strewn about the sidelines.

At the climax, against a gassed group of Tiger defenders, North Babylon junior tailback Jawara Keahey delivered the death blow to the home Tigers with his fifth touchdown of the day — a 33-yard run around right tackle on third down and 13. Keahey, who rushed for a Long Island-best 258 yards on the day, slithered through a small hole at the line of scrimmage, broke a tackle attempt by Tiger defensive back Tommy O’Brien at the 10, and outran three other Northport defenders to score with a little over a minute remaining in the game to win it. The final score was 33-27 as the Bulldogs rang up 368 yards on the ground.

“That run was heartbreaking,” Northport head coach Pat Campbell said. “We had a chance to stuff it at the line of scrimmage, but [Keahey] found a crease, broke it to the sideline and was off to the races.”

O’Brien had a chance to stop Keahey before he scored, but could not.

“I had him and should have wrapped him up and brought him down,” said junior O’Brien, making his first varsity start. “I’m going to learn from this experience, and I know that it won’t happen in the future.”

Also making his first varsity appearance is junior quarterback Enrique Hernandez, who had a double order of unenviable as he is replacing the graduated football and baseball star Owen Johansen, and he had to do it against this snarling Bulldog defense.

“After that first drive, I felt pretty natural and comfortable,” Hernandez said. “It was the most physical game I’ve ever been a part of, and I think we had a good chance to win. We just need to fix a few things, and we’ll be fine.”

Hernandez looked like a seasoned veteran on Northport’s first possession, as he led the Tigers on an 80-yard, 11-play touchdown drive that was capped off by an 8-yard dash up the middle by senior Giancarlo Valenti. Senior running back Michael Campoli juiced up an already frenzied crowd with a 40-yard run on the second play from scrimmage. Hernandez then got the Tigers into the red zone with an 11-yard keeper. Five plays later, Northport led 6-0.

The Bulldogs bit back on their second possession. North Babylon quarterback Chris Stumpf completed a pass to Keahey for 29 yards midway through the second quarter and shortly thereafter, Keahey was doing the first of his five touchdown celebrations after he waltzed up the middle virtually untouched. It made the score 7-6 in favor of the Bulldogs, and it marked the first of three lead changes on the day.

“North Babylon is a very senior-heavy team, and they like to run it down your throat,” Campbell said. “We got a taste of it today with their guys up front, and obviously their running back [Keahey] had a special kind of day.”

After an exchange of punts, Northport took advantage of a short field and took back the lead right before halftime. Junior Christian Campoli, Michael’s brother, caught a 6-yard touchdown pass at the front-right pylon to give the Tigers the lead, 13-7, on the last play of the first half.

“Enrique threw me a perfect ball with a lot of pressure in his face,” said Christian Campoli, who would later leave the game with a painful leg cramp. “He got hit hard and still was able to get the ball to me.”

Hernandez only completed three passes for 48 yards, but Campbell was very pleased with his performance.

“Enrique did a great job,” Campbell said. “He went toe-to-toe with that defense in a tough environment and took a couple of big hits. But he’s a cool cat, and he kept his composure. I believe that he is only going to get better.”

But would it be enough on this day? The 5-foot-7-inch, 150-pound Keahey would provide the answer.

He ripped off 56 yards on three carries to start the third quarter and finished the 10-play drive with a 1-yard plunge off right tackle to swing the lead back to the Bulldogs at 14-13. North Babylon forced a punt, and Keahey got right back at it. He galloped 47 yards to cap a two-play drive and put North Babylon up by eight — a double-barreled assault on the Northport defense to start the half and wrest control of the game.

But the Tigers were still a touchdown and a two-point conversion from tying the game after Michael Campoli, his brother Christian now ruled out of the game, blocked the extra point.

“I didn’t know how bad his injury was,” Michael said of his younger brother. “But I was playing angry — for him. I know what he means to this team, so I did everything I could to keep us in the game.”

After Valenti electrified the crowd with a 44-yard touchdown run, slicing through the middle of the tiring Bulldog defense for his second score of the day, Northport trailed by two. Campbell called Michael Campoli’s number to try and tie the score.

On a play called “wing sweep,” Michael Campoli followed right guard Connor Henigman and left guard Connor Farrington and lunged the ball over the goal line just as his knee hit the turf. The game was tied with just over three minutes to go.

“I told the guys in the huddle that there was no way they were going to stop me,” Campoli said. “And I was right. It was great blocking by the big guys up front, both of the Connors, and I just did the rest.”

Campoli finished the game with 91 yards rushing on 12 carries.

“He’s a warrior,” Campbell said. “He’s a quiet kid but he plays with a nasty streak.”

But North Babylon has competitors, too. The senior Stumpf picked a great time to complete his second pass of the day when he hit his tight end Jack Montecalvo on a bootleg for 27 yards to the Tiger 30. After a penalty, Northport had a chance to stop the Bulldogs on 3rd and 13 with a minute to go in the game and was likely headed to overtime if Northport could prevent a North Babylon first down. 

Keahey did them one better. He took the ball from Stumpf for the final time, made a subtle juke at the line of scrimmage and raced down the right sideline into the endzone — in his wake, leaving five exhausted Tiger defenders sprawled out like felled bowling pins. It was the final strike of the afternoon and, fittingly, it was delivered by Keahey.

“We got a little pinched in the middle, and he busted it outside,” Campbell said. “We have a lot of new guys on defense, and I’m thinking as the season goes along we’re going to learn on the job and get better. We have to.”

Northport will not have long to wait to show if they have taken lessons out of this one, as they play a rare Thursday afternoon game, Sept. 14, at home against Smithtown East. 

Photo by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

The Port Jefferson School District athletic department is offering athletic camps to Port Jefferson elementary, middle and high school students.

Camps include basketball, cheerleading, kickboxing, martial arts, tennis and more.

With athletic coaches, teachers and upperclassmen as instructors, the goal of these camps is to teach the fundamentals of the sport while incorporating essential life lessons, such as teamwork and sportsmanship, all while having fun.

Registration for the camps is available on the athletic department page of the district website at portjeffschools.org.

By Daniel Dunaief

Learning a new basketball system was challenging: learning German was even harder.

For India Pagan, who speaks English and Spanish, communicating with her coach and fans in her first experience in professional basketball after graduating with a Master’s from Stony Brook University proved difficult.

Early in the season, playing for BC Pharmaserv in Marburg, Germany, head coach Patrick Unger spoke to her in English, but he’s “translating it in his head in German,” Pagan said. Sometimes, she took what he said the wrong way.

When Unger said something, Pagan recalled that she “took it in a personal way, which make me get in my head,” she said.

After speaking with Unger, she cleared the air, which helped her understand more of what he wanted.

Pagan lived and worked a continent away from her family in New London, Connecticut, who had been regular visitors and supporters during her college playing days as a member of the Seawolves.

Moises Pagan, India’s father, was grateful for the opportunity to connect with his daughter electronically. “Thank God for FaceTime,” he said. “That helped.”

Off the court, Pagan adjusted to life in a different culture while living in an apartment with three teammates. She and her teammates had some of the typical issues that affect college students who move in with strangers when they first start living life apart from their families.

Some of her teammates were more attentive to cleaning their dishes or buying necessities.

One of Pagan’s biggest frustrations was that she likes to sleep late. Some of her teammates would knock on doors and ask for something in the morning.

“One thing I learned is that when I get another roommate, I’m really going to set boundaries” so that she can get the rest she feels she needs, Pagan said.

In addition, Pagan, whose parents grew up in Puerto Rico and who has a strong cultural and national identity tied to the island territory, found it difficult to purchase the kind of foods she knows she enjoys eating.

Pagan’s parents Moises and Carmen sent their daughter a care package filled with spices and packaged foods. The only problem: it took 28 days to arrive. The parcel “sat in Frankfurt for eight days,” Moises Pagan said. He called the post office in the United States, and representatives said they also saw that the package wasn’t moving, but that there was “nothing they could do.” When the food items finally arrived, India brought a teammate who spoke German with her, to translate.

Amid local and global health concerns, Pagan said the team had its share of illnesses. In her first week in Germany, she was sick. “You have to be kidding me,” she recalled thinking. “I’m sick already and we weren’t even playing games.”

Pagan got the first week off. After that, she said, players on her team passed along a few colds, which weren’t Covid but were still unpleasant.

On the court

While Pagan had an opportunity to play and continue to develop her game, the team didn’t make the playoffs and was heading into the final few weeks of the season with a losing record. “We know we’re a good team,” Pagan said. “The majority of games, we lost by a couple of points. We never found our rhythm this season.”

Pagan went from helping lead the Stony Brook women’s basketball team through successful seasons to debuting on a professional team that struggled to put wins together. “Basketball will always be fun, but losing so many games by five points got really frustrating and obviously isn’t for anyone,” she said.

In addition to receiving ongoing and positive support from her parents, India Pagan also remained in touch with Ashley Langford, who coached Pagan during her final year at Stony Brook.

“It’s always great hearing from [Coach Langford],” said Pagan. Langford reminded Pagan that she’s a great player, that she should attack and play her game, and should believe in herself. “Small phrases like that” really helped, Pagan said.

Langford said she tries to remind all first-year professional players that there’s a learning curve and that there will be moments they don’t enjoy. “What I tried to tell India, too, is that it’ll get better and stick with it,” she said.

Langford also highlighted how the officiating is different. Players might get called for travels more or less often in one league. She urged Pagan to dominate, which, the coach said, would make it difficult to take her out of the lineup.

“You’ve got to make him play you,” Langford urged.

Personal growth

Pagan felt she grew as a basketball player and as a person. She described the German style of play as “quicker and more physical.”

When a shot went up, her coach wanted everyone to go for a rebound, rather than sending one or two guards back to protect against a fast break on the other end.

“In some respects, I am a better basketball player,” she explained. “I learned some new moves and learned a lot about my game.”

During the season, Pagan and two of her teammates couldn’t go home for Christmas. They visited with their head coach and his family, which included three children. “I was thankful for the family I got to spend time with over here,” Pagan said. She also visited bigger cities, which were over an hour and a half from where she lived, as often as she could.

When she returns home, Pagan is looking forward to visiting with family, eating crab legs and taking a trip to Dunkin’ Donuts.

She has not decided where she’ll play next year and is exploring various options, including joining a Puerto Rican league.

#32 Keenan Fitzmorris helped lead his team to victory on Saturday. Photo from Stony Brook Athletics

 The Stony Brook men’s basketball team (9-17, 5-8 CAA) secured a 69-59 come from behind victory over North Carolina A&T (12-15, 7-7 CAA) on Feb. 11 in front of the faithful at Island Federal Arena.

Stony Brook’s offense was paced by four student-athletes who tallied double figures for the team. Leading the way for the Seawolves were graduate center Keenan Fitzmorris and senior guard Tyler Stephenson-Moore scoring 14 points each. Graduate forward Frankie Policelli scored 12 points and hauled in a team-high 11 rebounds. He tallied his team-leading tenth double-double of the season. Junior Tanahj Pettway contributed 12 points and grabbed six rebounds in the victory for Stony Brook.

After falling behind, 23-10, with just over nine minutes left in the first half, the Seawolves stormed back on a 13-2 run over the next five minutes to cut the deficit to just two points. The Stony Brook big men led the charge for the team, as Fitzmorris and freshman Leon Nahar combined for eight of the 13 points.

Following an Aggie three pointer that gave North Carolina A&T a five point lead with 5:15 left in the half, the Seawolves went on an 11-3 run to end the half and give the squad a 34-31 lead. Pettway provided the energy for the squad after a block on the defensive end that led to a Fitzmorris dunk which tied the contest at 28-28 with 2:52 left. Freshman guard Toby Onyekonwu and sophomore guard Kaine Roberts drilled back-to-back three pointers, giving Stony Brook the three point lead heading into the break.