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Steven Zaitz

By Steven Zaitz

The Walt Whitman flag football team traveled just a few miles northeast to notch their first win of the season in a nonleague game against Harborfields on March 27. 

The Wildcats scored four touchdowns in the first half against the Tornadoes and cruised to 28-0 victory. Whitman quarterback Madi Richter was 11 for 14 passing for 87, including a touchdown toss to wide receiver Katelyn Adams. Whitman also shined on defense and special teams as they intercepted Tornado quarterbacks four times, returning one of them for a touchdown, which was by Nevin Letren. 

Wildcat punt returner Brittny Cisneros Campos scampered 46 yards for a touchdown, as the rules have been changed this year to allow punt returns to be advanced – as long as the ball has been fielded cleanly by the receiving team. 

Campos also scored the first touchdown of the game on a two-yard run. Whitman played against the Half Hollow Hills combined team on April 2 in a battle of predicted powerhouses. They lost 20-12 to the 2023 Suffolk County champion Lady Thunderbirds.

Tornado quarterback Kate Lysaght was 13 for 20 passing for 83 yards and defensive back Scarlet Carey led the team with six flag pulls and two passes defended.

Harborfields tried again on the road against Sayville on April 1, but were beaten 39-7. They will host Wyandanch on April 4.

— Photos by Steven Zaitz

Pitcher Andrew Poxon fires one in against Grand Street Campus. Photo by Steven Zaitz

By Steven Zaitz

The Ward Melville Patriots baseball team played a scrimmage against Brooklyn-based Grand Street Campus this past Sunday, March 24.

Patriot third baseman, Matt Poxon, takes a throw during a bang-bang play against Grand Street Campus. Photo by Steven Zaitz

After the all-day and night downpour on Saturday, the skies were blue on Sunday, but that didn’t mean it was ideal baseball weather. With the early-morning start time, a whipping wind, and a temperature that barely crawled into the 40’s, it was a day more suited for ice fishing than baseball.

It looked like Ward Melville was playing with some frozen fingers early on as a botched bunt play and an outfield overthrow in the second inning led to four unearned runs for the Wolves, who would win 5-1.

Nick Carnovale, Andrew Poxon and Ben Ferraro pitched for the Patriots.

Ward Melville played again on Monday and had a big, late-inning rally to beat Brentwood 9-8. First baseman Joe Karpowicz and outfielder Danny Cornish had RBI singles in the bottom of the sixth inning. The Patriots were down by 8-5 entering the inning. 

Pitcher Jason Stiles threw three scoreless innings for the win in relief of starter Patrick Duryea. The Patriots played their final non league game on March 27 against East Islip and will start the regular season with a three-game set against Connetquot on April 2.

— Photos by Steven Zaitz

By Steven Zaitz

On a sunny but cold afternoon, both Northport’s girls and boys lacrosse programs hosted scrimmages on March 18.

The girls took on Cold Spring Harbor in a scrimmage on the Northport High School football field and the boys tangled with the West Islip Lions in twin tune-ups for the regular season.

The Lady Tigers will play their first regular season game against Huntington at home on March 25 and the boys team, after facing nonleague Port Washington, will travel to William Floyd to kick off their regular season on March 26.

Both Northport lacrosse teams were Suffolk County champions in 2023 and they look forward to similar success in 2024.

— Photos by Steven Zaitz

By Steven Zaitz

The Smithtown Kickers youth soccer league, in conjunction with Alyssa Faro, a sophomore at Smithtown High School West and aspiring Eagle Scout, put on a free youth soccer clinic on March 9-10 at the New York Avenue fields on the campus of the Smithtown Central School District Administrative offices. 

Over 50 children received instruction from Faro and eight of her soccer friends and teammates as the Kickers Spring season will get underway in less than two weeks. The girls ran drills on both Saturday and Sunday for three hours despite stretches of inclement weather on and off throughout the weekend.

Faro, who managed the project from inception to execution, did so as a part of her ascension to the elite rank of Eagle Scout. If she is fortunate enough to achieve this high honor, Faro would be one of only six female Eagle Scouts at Troop 539 of Kings Park.

“I can remember being on this very soccer field when I was five years old and I love to pay it forward,” said Faro. “It’s important to me to make a positive impact in the community and doing it through soccer is such a great feeling.”

The budding soccer stars, who ranged in age between four and ten, also had a great feeling learning the game from Alyssa and her staff.

“I had a lot of fun and I scored a lot of goals,” said a seven-year-old boy named Daniel. “I can’t wait for the season to start.”

The Smithtown Kickers season will kick off on March 23 at various locations throughout Smithtown.

Haley Loscalzo drives to the basket against Grace Davis of Whitman. Photo by Steven Zaitz

By Steven Zaitz

Author Walt Whitman was the quintessential influencer of the mid-19th century. His pioneering style of poetry opened a new genre of American literature and 200 years later, his body of work is still beloved worldwide.

After the Suffolk County girls basketball class AAA title game last Sunday, rumors again are swirling that Whitman himself coined the time-tested sports phrase ‘defense wins championships’. Whether he penned this pearl of wisdom or not, his namesake high school in West Hills authored another example of why it always rings true.

In defeating the previously unbeaten Commack Lady Cougars, the Walt Whitman Lady Wildcats (19-3) won their second consecutive Suffolk County championship by a score of 45-36 at the Brookhaven Gymnasium in Selden on March 3.

“Winning consecutive championships is awesome,” said Whitman’s perennial all-Suffolk point guard Iris Hoffman. “We knew we had a target on our back coming into the season and we were able to deal with the pressure. To be able to come out on top is a great feeling.”

At the start of this one, both sides were noticably feeling the pressure. Turnovers, air balls and tie-ups were much more prevalent than balls in baskets and the score after one quarter was just 6-3 in favor of Whitman. 

In fact, in the entire first half Commack (22-1), who came into the game averaging 53 points a night in their unblemished 22-win season, had four total field goals. Three of these were early 3-pointers from fellow all-county player Sofia Vasselman. The Cougars did not have a two-point field goal until Mia McBrien hit a layup with 45 seconds to go in the first half.

Despite the unfamiliar offensive anemia for Commack, they trailed by only five at 19-14 after the first half. 

Freshman Wildcat forward Jazmynn Julien was a huge part of keeping Commack from executing their offensive game plan. Despite only registering two points, Julien ‘s impact on the outcome was enormous. She was buzzing all around the court on the defensive end, chasing down loose balls, altering shots, and keeping Vasselman and her teammates away from their comfortable spots on the floor.

“Jazmynn is an elite defender,” said Whitman head coach Daniel Trebour. “She can contain, pressure, and disrupt without much help from the others. It’s crazy to think that as a freshman she has that kind of blend of defensive skill and intensity. She definitely forced Commack into some tough situations.” 

“I knew I had to deny [Vasselman] a little more and stay close so she wouldn’t shoot it,” said Julien, who had four steals, four rebounds and one blocked shot. “I’m used to guarding really good players so it wasn’t much of a task for me.”

The task for Commack was made more daunting as Cougar point guard Sienna Olivares picked up her fourth foul in the first minute of the third quarter. Olivares, Commack’s floor general and offensive facilitator, would take a seat on the bench and watch her teammates go scoreless for a six-minute stretch in that quarter.

When Hoffman picked the pocket of Commack sophomore Gianna Solch and took it upcourt for a layup, the Wildcats would go up by 10 with 1:30 to go in the third. They would increase it to 13 by the start of the fourth.

A long-range bomb from Vasselman, who finished with a game-high 20, and two free throws from Olivares cut the lead to eight with 4:32 remaining in the game. But Whitman senior guard Kallie Eichner, who had been scoreless, slashed through the lane and hit a running, left-handed layup to put the Wildcat lead back at double digits. The lead would bounce between eight and ten for the rest of the game as Vasselman’s well of 3-pointers would finally run dry. 

Kathleen O’Mara, who led Whitman with 16 points, scored her team’s final field goal of the game. It came with 92 seconds remaining and was the final, fatal blow to the Cougars’ championship dream. 

After a slew of time-outs and free throws, the clock finally read 0:00, and a bouncing, burgundy and white celebration ensued at center court for the second year in a row. In each of these championship games, Whitman was not favored to win.

“Being an underdog is definitely a motivator,” said Hoffman, who had 11 points and seven assists. Regardless of our seed, we can never be ruled out because the playoffs are a whole different stage. We work harder to prove that we deserve to be here and to win.” 

One more of those wins – against Syosset on March 10 – and the Lady Wildcats will earn a trip to the New York State Championship. And who knows how much celebrating and singing of themselves they’ll do when that tournament comes to a conclusion.

By Steven Zaitz

In a dominating performance by their frontcourt, the Northport boys basketball team beat Brentwood in the first round of the Suffolk County, Class AAA playoffs Friday, Feb. 23.

Forward Will Meyer had a career-high 24 points to lead the sixth-seeded Tigers, who knocked off the third-seeded and defending county and Long Island champion Indians, 79-68. Forward Brendan Fenlon had 18 points, including four three-pointers, and Owen Boylan added 15.

Slashing and dashing point guard Jojo Cipollino had 20 points and scored most of his points by aggressively attacking the rim. Northport built a 20-10 lead after a fast-paced first quarter as Cipollino and Meyer each had six in the first eight minutes.

But Brentwood exploded for 23 in the second quarter as Indian swingman Marquese Dennis poured in nine, including a three-pointer. His teammate, 6’6” power forward had 16 points in the first half and the two teams went to the locker room with Northport ahead 37-33.

The Tigers came into the game averaging 56 points of offense a game but seemed to enjoy the electrifying pace and were able to negotiate Brentwood’s attempts at trapping them in the backcourt. Using quick passes to break the press or long baseball-like passes to go over it, Northport was able to get inside for high-percentage shots in the paint or divert to Plan B and make an extra pass for three-point attempts by Fenlon or Boylan — who hit on seven smart bombs in total. 

As is the case with so many high school basketball games, this one was decided in the third period. With three minutes to go in the quarter three and Northport up by five, Fenlon hoisted up a long ball right in front of the Tiger bench. The ball went halfway down, popped out of the basket, and then straight down and in.  It gave the Tigers a 51-43 advantage. Meyer hit a layup and was fouled with less than a minute to go in the quarter and the Northport lead ballooned to 58-46. Meyer had 10 points in the third.

The Brentwood gym has been kind to Northport in recent years as the Tigers boast a 14-7 record. In their last playoff appearance here in 2021, they beat the heavily-favored Indians 58-56 to win the Suffolk County championship. This year, they completed just the first step to a title. They played William Floyd on Wednesday, Feb. 28, for a chance at the finals for the third time in four years — results unavailable at time of print. For Brentwood, the loss means they will not have their 11th Suffolk County title in school history or fifth in the last decade. 

— Photos by Steven Zaitz

By Steve Zaitz

Led by senior guard Benjamin Haug’s 24 points, the Smithtown East boys basketball team beat their rivals to the south, the Hauppauge Eagles, 65-49 on Feb. 24 in the first round of the Suffolk County, Class AA playoffs.

The Bulls, the fourth seed, improve to 16-5 and got  the opportunity to face an even fiercer rival – the number one seed Smithtown West Bulls.

In their win over the Eagles, Smithtown East rode a 19-3 second period to establish a commanding lead after a close first quarter. They took a 37-18 lead into halftime as Haug boasted 11 points and senior big man James Burton had 9 at the break.

Hauppauge junior guard Cole Wood hit three three-pointers in the second half and the fifth-seeded Eagles cut the lead to 11 late in the third quarter, but they never got any closer.  Wood finished with 17 points.

Breaking news

Smithtown West handily defeated Smithtown East in the semi-finals on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 74-47 and will face Half Hollow Hills East for the Class AA championship on March 2.

By Steven Zaitz

The Northport girls basketball team had a senior night to remember on Friday, Feb. 9.

Not only were the graduating seniors, who were playing in their final regular-season home game, feted with teary speeches and flower bouquets from coaches, they completed a fourth quarter comeback that will not soon be forgotten.

Trailing 48-34 entering the final eight minutes of play, Northport, and in particular senior captain Kennedy Radziul, went on a 22-7 tear to beat North Babylon 56-55. The Lady Bulldogs have Suffolk County’s leading scorer on their roster, and she was every bit of that, scoring 35 points, but only 4 of which came in the fourth quarter. Radziul had 15 in that quarter and 20 total for the game.

With the score 55-54 in favor of North Babylon, Radziul, who has played for four years on the Lady Tiger varsity team, hit two free throws with 35 seconds left. These would be the final two points of the night for either team.

Fellow senior Brooke Kershow had 9 points and sophomore Grace Gilmartin had 8 off the bench as the Lady Tigers improved their record to 11-2 in League II play. Their only losses have come against the first place and undefeated Commack Lady Cougars, who are 13-0 at the time of this writing.

— Photos by Steven Zaitz

By Steven Zaitz

The Smithtown-Hauppauge swim team capped off their undefeated season at Stony Brook University by winning the Suffolk County championship in overwhelming fashion on Saturday, Feb. 10.

They collected 366 points which was 98 more than second place Connetquot-East Islip.

Dylan Gallub won the 50-yard freestyle event and finished second in the 100-yard freestyle. The Smithtown East senior was also part of the team that won the 200-yard freestyle relay, along with his brother Tyler Gallub, Christopher Sweeney and Alex Trzaskowski. The quartet’s time of 1:25.13 was a Suffolk County High School record, qualifies them for New York State championships and also garners All-American consideration. This same foursome also won the 200-yard medley relay with a state qualifying time of 1:36.07. 

Tyler Gallub placed second in the 100-yard butterfly; his brother Dylan was second in the 100-yard freestyle. Overall, these four swimmers were fast enough to qualify for state championships in eight different events.

Also contributing to the big win for the ‘Smith-pague’ team were the divers. Five divers from the team scored points including second place overall diver Colin Buscarino. Also in the top 12 were Kristen Krause, Danielle Krause, Sydney Poulis and Lexie Poulis. The diving event is mixed gender.


The Northport-Commack and Huntington-Harborfields-Whitman and Glenn boys swimming teams made excellent showings at the Section XI championships as well.

The HHWJ team finished third overall behind overall winner Smithtown-Hauppauge and second place Connetquot-East Islip. Northport-Commack was a respectable eighth out of 22 teams.

HHWJ’s 200-yard medley relay team, featuring Evam Creter, Lucas Spagnolleti, Patrick O’Brien and Liam O’Hanlon finished in third place and qualified for New York State championships, Creter finished second in both the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke adding two more state qualifiers to his resume. His teammate Max Leroy was fourth in the 200-yard freestyle and also qualified for state championships. Their times were 1:44.04 and 1:46.51, respectively. 

Spagnoletti, Leroy, O’Hanlon and Creter regrouped to finish second in the 400-yard freestyle relay with a time of 3:16.88 and yet another state qualifier.

Northport-Commack’s 200-yard medley relay team of Milo Marrero, Kyle Sundberg, Jasper Johnson and Logan Decena finished in sixth. Sundberg just missed a state qualification in the 200-yard individual medley, finishing fifth with a time of 2:02.80. The NoCo 200-yard freestyle relay team of Sundberg, Johnson, Decana and Oskar Sokolowski finished fifth with a solid time of 1:32.29.

The New York State High School swimming championships will be held at Ithaca College on the first weekend of March.

By Steven Zaitz

The string of good fortune continues for the Newfield Wolverine Fencing program.

After its boys team won its fourth consecutive Suffolk County title on Feb. 8, they descended upon Ward Melville High School on Saturday and with their Lady Wolverine counterparts, won a raft of medals at the Suffolk County Individual Championships.

Marc Lindemann and Sophie Chen both took gold in the foil category as did Mya Barry with her Sabre. Meadow Dalberg took the silver medal in girls foil.

Saaim Imran was a solid fifth place in boys sabre and Ashleigh Murray came in eighth in girls épée, and Addison Ackerly was eighth in girls sabre for the Wolverines.

Host Ward Melville, whose girls team won the Suffolk girls championship also on Feb. 8, picked up two medals. Kiki Liu won the bronze, behind Chen and Dahlberg and Zachary Silverman also won bronze in the boys sabre competition. Yannick Reyes took ninth place out of 18 in the boys foil for the Patriots, Nicolas Giordano was sixth and Vincent DiCarlo eighth in sabre and Ava Lamedica was fourth in girls sabre.

Pending the weather on Feb. 13, Newfield Boys and Ward Melville girls fencing teams will face both of Nassau County’s Great Neck South teams for the Long Island championship at Brentwood High School. The Rebels and Lady Rebels beat both Syosset teams in their home gym last Friday, Feb 9. It was the sixth consecutive Section XIII for the girls of Great Neck South.

– Photos by Steven Zaitz