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Miller Place senior Ryan Sheridan fights his way to the basket in the Panther’s playoff opener against Glenn Feb. 12. Photo by Bill Landon

It was a trifecta for Miller Place in the opening round of post season play, having defeated Elwood John Glenn twice during the regular season. The Panther’s made it three-in-a-row, taking down the visiting Knights 66-52 to survive to play another day.

Miller Place senior Daniel Barrios was lights-out driving the lane seemingly at will and netting a team high of 22 points. Matt Frank’s eight points in the 3rdquarter extinguished a Glenn rally, banking 14 points on the night while teammate Justin Leichter did his damage from long-distance draining four triples for 12 points.

The Panthers are seeded No. 4 and will have their work cut out for them when they collide in a road game against Amityville, the No. 1 seed, Feb. 19. Tipoff is at 5:00 p.m.

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Carlos Hernandez flips his opponent. Photo by Bill Landon

The Comsewogue Warriors wrestling team came out onto the mat Feb. 8 at the Eastport-South Manor high school, with several of their members finishing strong. 

Leading the way for Comsewogue in League V finals were Ansel Then with a second-place finish at 145 pounds, as did teammate Blaise Coppola at 160 pounds. At 220 pounds, it was Cole Blatter who finished in the No. 2 spot. 

The Warriors look to build on their success in the county championship round at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood Feb. 15-16. The wrestling season culminates with the NYSPHAA finals at the Times Union Center Feb. 28-29.

Former Yankees professional Dana Cavalea came to the Barnes & Noble in Lake Grove to promote his book to a full crowd. The Mount Sinai native has had a long career in both professional baseball and in books. Photo by David Luces

Dana Cavalea, Mount Sinai native, is passionate about coaching. For 12 years he spent time as the New York Yankees strength and conditioning coach, and along the way got to pick the brains of some all-time
great athletes.  

Former Yankees professional Dana Cavalea came to the Barnes & Noble in Lake Grove to promote his book to a full crowd. The Mount Sinai native has had a long career in both professional baseball and in books. Photo by David Luces

He didn’t think he would eventually become an author, but he views his book, “Habits of a Champion: Nobody Becomes a Champion by Accident,” as an extension of coaching. 

“I never had the intention of writing a book, but I was reading these self-help books and I felt there was a gap from what I was reading and what I was seeing on the baseball field working with these athletes,” he said. “That’s what drove me toward writing this book, I wanted to write a handbook, that people can use as a utility as they navigate life.”

Interactions with Yankees fans also inspired him. 

“It also came about being at the stadium and fans coming up to me asking me questions about their own lives, about how they could improve their performance in a certain area,” Cavalea said. “I’d give them an answer, and then they would come back to another game during the season and they would ask another question.”

The Mount Sinai native pointed to a family friend, coach Billy King as a big reason why he chose to pursue his career path and started his training journey. 

“He was a big influence on me, when I learned what he was doing, he was in the gym training, watching what he eats, and I was like wow that’s pretty cool,” he said. 

Cavalea was 19 years old attending the University of South Florida and working as a strength and conditioning intern for the school’s football team when he was offered an unexpected opportunity. 

A professor at the university told him that the Yankees, who were in the midst of spring training at nearby Legends Field in Tampa, were looking for an intern to help out. 

Cavalea, who just so happened to have visited the ballpark as a fan the previous day, drove over the next day and was put into Yankee gear and was on the same field stretching with pitchers Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte. The Mount Sinai native worked as an intern for three years, then became an assistant, before becoming a coach at 23 years old. 

“The Bronx is only about 60 to 70 miles away from here but I had to go 1,800 miles away in order to get there,” he said.  

The performance coach said he took those experiences and wanted to write something in his own style, so people could tell it was written by him and it was authentic. 

“[Coach Billy King] was a big influence on me, when I learned what he was doing, he was in the gym training, watching what he eats, and I was like wow that’s pretty cool.”

— Dana Cavalea

“Habits of a Champion” is split into 15 lessons designed to help the reader succeed in different aspects of life. Cavalea shared some of those lessons at a Feb. 8 book-signing event at the Smithaven Mall in Lake Grove. 

Those included: “If someone doesn’t respect your time, they don’t respect you,” something Yankees Hall of Famer Derek Jeter would say, stressing the importance of being on time. Another was “never get too high and never get too low.” Cavalea mentioned that a person’s attitude or mood can determine their daily success. 

“It all comes down to how you control your own emotions,” he said. “Whether you are an Olympic athlete or a high schooler that has a big test or presentation.”  

In addition to writing books, Cavalea now works as a life coach and motivational speaker. Some of the clients he coaches are business executives, athletes and CEOs of companies. He has been asked to speak at a number of big corporations, nonprofit organizations and schools. 

“The messages and lessons are very universal,” he said. “When you’re a coach you are trying to learn as much as you can, and how you can maximize human potential.”

Despite the busy schedule, Cavalea said he enjoys writing books and has plans to release a children’s book sometime in April. He has already written two children’s books: “Champion Kids: Johnny ‘The Jet’ Saves the Day” and “Girls on the Run: Starring
Mighty Melina.” 

“It’s fun for me, It’s great being able to share these lessons with others,” he said. “If the best of the best need help, so does everyone else.” 

Rocky Point’s Matt Caggiano battles in the paint as Kings Park junior Nicholas Svolos defends Feb. 5. Bill Landon photo

It was a must win for the Rocky Point boys basketball team in order to make post season play, but Kings Park had other ideas, defeating the Eagles in the final game of the regular season 77-27 Feb. 5.

Kings Park Co-Captain Jack Garside topped the scoring chart for the Kingsmen with six field goals, four triples and seven free throws for a team high of 31 points. Nicholas Svolos followed with 12 while Jon Borkowski banked 10.

Gavin Davanzo led the way for the Eagles with 18 points and teammate Will Platt netted 7 in the League V season finale.

The win lifts Kings Park to 15-1 in their division, 18-2 overall and look to carry the momentum into the opening round of the playoffs Feb. 12.

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Newfield senior Mohab Ali captures his 100th career victory Jan. 29. Photo by Sophia Vitale

It was history in the making when Newfield senior and star wrestler Mohab Ali defeated Sachem East’s Luis Valdez Jan. 29 with an 8-2 decision to notch his 100th victory at 195 lbs. Ali’s current season record is 31-2 and his varsity career stands at 100-36. What makes the milestone all that more remarkable is Ali’s freshman year record was 3-21, according to Newfield Head Coach Douglas Lotten.

Senior Hunter Hughes who also won Jan. 29 at 152 pounds tied the Middle Country School District all-time career record at 132 wins. Both wrestlers are ranked number 1 in Suffolk county in their respective weight class. At the state level, Hughes is ranked 5th and Ali is 7th.

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Newfield senior Colin Cassara lays up for two in a home game against Copiague. Photo by Bill Landon

Newfield’s Colin Cassara joined that elite group of high school basketball players when he scored his 1,000th point of his varsity career in a road game against Hills East Jan. 25. Cassara was presented a commemorative basketball marking the event in a home game against Copiague four days later.

At a game Jan. 29, the Wolverines scratched out a 2-point lead at the half but struggled in the 3rdquarter falling behind by 11. The Wolverines rallied in the final eight minutes of play but fell short falling to the Eagles 53-49.

Just like he’s done all season, Cassara led the way for the Wolverines scoring five from the floor and went 8 for 9 at the line for 18 points. Teammate Andrew Daniels, the 6’10” senior, netted 17 while  Ziggy Hoe banked 10.

Cassara currently sits in 8th place in Suffolk County in total points scored, with three games remaining in the regular season.

Newfield is set to take the court against Smithtown West at home Feb. 4 at 6 p.m. They will hosting Huntington Feb. 6 with a game time set for 5:45 p.m.

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Lanscaping for new pickleball courts is already underway at the Port Jefferson Country Club. Photo by Kyle Barr

Pickleball is on the plate for the Port Jefferson Country Club, and while bids still have to come in, village officials said courts in the village proper that were previously considered are currently off the table.

In previous years, some residents called for pickleball courts at other places in the village. Local Port Jeffersonite Myrna Gordon was one who pleaded for such a sport to be accessible in the village. 

She said restricting the courts to the country club has severely limited the number of people who could use them.

“Most people don’t realize that we stand alone up there.”

— Stan Loucks

“Why would you charge village residents for this recreational program?” she said in an email. “No fees should be charged to any village resident for use of the now being built pickleball courts.”

Landscaping has already started at the country club just west of the tennis courts on the left-hand side of The Waterview building. Despite calling the landscaping and removal of bushes and trees “environmental devastation,” she asked why there wasn’t more consideration for a pickleball court next to the basketball courts near Rocketship Park or in the Texaco Avenue Park in Upper Port.

Stan Loucks, the vice mayor and liaison to the country club, said in a phone interview Jan. 24 that the village originally intended to modify the basketball court off of Barnum Avenue and paint lines for pickleball with removable nets available for certain times when not being used for basketball. However, that idea came under “considerable opposition” from people who wanted it to be maintained for children’s use.

Gordon had been one of those critics, writing in a letter to the editor it was “eliminating a space where culturally diverse people come to play pick-up games,” adding the space was already highly utilized. She instead asked why pickleball could not be built next to the basketball courts, but Loucks responded, saying space was a major consideration.

Gordon, in previous letters to the Port Times Record and in talks to the village board, had suggested placing the court structure at the Texaco Avenue Park, which was recently constructed along with the neighboring parking lot. 

Loucks said there was no room for such a court at the park, and it would also take redrawing up plans that were already approved.

The penned-in court complex going in at the country club is measured out to be 64 by 116 feet for three pickleball courts, though a normal-sized, regulation court is only measured at 20 by 44 feet. The Texaco park contains a small play set and basketball court, along with a walking path and some spare seating.

“No fees should be charged to any village resident for use of the now being built pickleball courts.”

— Myrna Gordon

Pickleball is cited as one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S., according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. It’s played on a smaller court than tennis and uses paddles instead of rackets to volley a plastic ball back and forth across asphalt courts.

Bids are supposed to come back for the pickleball courts Feb. 6, and potential contractors have already done a walk-through of the property. Loucks is waiting for those bids to come back on a project that could cost anywhere between $85,000 and $128,000, which also includes partially completed landscaping at the country club, at a cost of several thousand to the club itself.

The rest of the funds, the trustee said, would have to be bonded for. Most likely, since the country club cannot issue bonds, the village would apply for the bond and then the country club would use its funds to pay it off. A similar agreement was worked out when the country club installed a new irrigation system for the golf course, which cost around $2 million, or just over the total amount of the club’s entire yearly budget.

The pickleball courts, Loucks said, are a way of hopefully generating more revenue for the country club.

“Most people don’t realize that we stand alone up there,” he said. “We’re trying to make end’s meet — we’re hoping pickleball brings in some additional revenue.”

Rocky Point senior Jimmy Curley (l) runs 3200 meters along with Comsewogue’s Joe Fazio and Kings Park’s Jonathan Englehardt at SCCC Feb. 1. Bill Landon photo

The Mount Sinai Mustangs were the class of the field in the Suffolk County small school championship Feb. 1, sitting atop the leader-board to win the team championship with 66 points at Suffolk County Community College.

Kings Park finished 7th overall just ahead of Comsewogue High School. Shoreham-Wading River junior Blake Wehr placed 2nd in the high jump event clearing 6’ 4” landing the Wildcats 12th in the team standings.

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Port Jeff sophomore Abigail Rolfe drives the base line in a home game against Southampton Jan. 30. Photo by Bill Landon

Port Jefferson held off a late charge by the Southampton Mariners Jan. 30 at home to win 48-37 to stay atop the League VII leaderboard at 12-2.

Sophomore Abigail Rolfe led the way for the Royals hitting five from the floor and eight free throws for a team high of 18 points. Port Jeff senior Samantha Ayotte followed with 10 points, while junior Evelyn Walker did her damage from long range hitting three triples for 9 points total. Brooke Zamek, a junior, netted eight.

The win gives the Royals a two-game lead over 2nd place Mattituck with two games remaining before post season play begins.

The Royals retake the court in a road game against Smithtown Christian Feb. 3 before returning home to take on Greenport/Southold Feb 5. Games times are 4 and 5 p.m. respectively.

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Farhbach, at 99 pounds, puts down his SWR opponent where his team won 47-24. Photo from Mel Jacoby

Syracuse, here they come, and not for the first time.

The Mount Sinai wrestling team after their win against SWR. Photo from Mel Jacoby

On Saturday, Jan. 25, Mount Sinai wrestlers beat Shoreham-Wading River in the finals of the Suffolk County Division II championship 47-24 to advance to the New York State Division II wrestling championship in Syracuse. Mount Sinai won an earlier match against Shoreham-Wading River in the regular season.  

The seniors again dazzled the capacity crowd by scoring pins at their respective weights. They were led by seniors Matt Campo at 170 pounds (34-2), Joe Goodrich at 182 pounds (35-0), Mike O’Brien at 138 pounds (33-4) and Adham Shata at 195 pounds (34-3), who each won their match.  

Taking charge at the lower weights was Brayden Fahrbach at 99 pounds, who won by a pin, while Derrek Menechino, Jack Tyrell and Brenden Goodrich all reversed earlier losses against Shoreham-Wading River to score decisive wins.   

Contributing to the team effort were middle weights Ryan Shanian at 145 pounds and Tristan Nardi at 160 pounds, who each won their matches.  

On the SWR side, the team ends league play with 7-6-1 and 19-4-1 overall.

This was the third year in a row that Mustang wrestlers won the Suffolk County Division II championship.  

Mount Sinai will advance to Syracuse for the New York State Dual Meet Championship at the SRC Arena Feb. 1, where they will defend their New York State title, which they have won the past two years.