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Westhampton

No. 9 Harborfields will travel to No. 8 Westhampton today at 4 p.m. in the second round of playoffs

By Bill Landon

Harborfields’ strength lies in its singles play. The No. 9-seeded boys tennis team swept all four singles spots — all the Tornadoes would need in a best-of-seven series — and went on to blank visiting Brentwood 7-0 in the first round of the Suffolk County playoffs.

Harborfields junior Alex Rzehak, who earned All-State honors the last two years, led his team at first singles. He shut down Brentwood’s Armando Santana 6-0, 6-0.

“He’s our No. 1 player,” Harborfields head coach Bob Davis said of his state tournament alternate. “He plays the best kid on every other team in our division. In fact, the top four finishers in the county are all from our division. This is the second year in a row he’s the alternate. He’s a junior, so he’ll get another bite at the apple.”

Eighth-grader Chris Qi, at fourth singles, also shut out his Brentwood opponent.

“He wound up with a 9-3 record this year in our division — that’s not easy,” the coach said. “We have some kids who are serious about tennis, and [slowly but surely] we’re getting there.”

Other young Harborfields athletes shined during the match. Freshman Michael Singer nipped his challenger 6-1, 6-0 at second singles. Singer made the All-County team this year, and won a round in the county singles tournament.

“We’re hoping for big things from him [moving forward,]” Davis said.

Rounding out singles action was junior Bobby Bellino, who won his match 6-0, 6-1.

“He could wind up being the best of all,” the coach said of his third singles player. “He’s got amazing tools, he just has to work on his consistency.”

The second doubles pair of John Mulé and Luke Verdon competed in the only match that went to three sets. After falling 3-6 in the first, the seniors rallied back 6-3, 6-1 to claim a win in the second-to-last match of the afternoon.

“It was interesting,” Mulé said. “We really didn’t play much at all last week because of the weather. We may have underestimated our opponent at first, they’re pretty good.”

Davis, although thinking his team should have been seeded higher, said he’s under no illusion that his team will have to work hard to prepare for No. 8 Westhampton May 23. The Tornadoes will travel to Westhampton for a 4 p.m. match.

“I think we should’ve gotten a high seed … so now we have to go out and prove it,” he said. “Westhampton is a very good team. It’ll be a very good match, so we’ll see what happens.”

Bellino said he’ll be prepared, but added the doubles pairs will also need to be ready to back up the singles players.

“It’ll be a lot of pressure on our doubles guys — they have to come up big and get those crucial points because if one of us in singles loses, we need a doubles team to pull through,” he said. “I’m just going to go in with a clear head and not think about the pressure that’s riding on the game … just go out and have fun, try to find my opponent’s weakness and use that to my advantage.”

This version was updated May 22 at 9 p.m. to change the date of Harborfields’ next game, which was postponed due to rain.

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By Bill Landon

Lauren Kloos continues to lead the way for Kings Park.

On Nov. 12, the senior outside hitter’s 12 kills put the girls’ volleyball team back in the state semifinal game. The Kingsmen bested Floral Park in straight sets, 25-10, 25-19 and 25-22 for Kings Park’s sixth straight Long Island championship crown.

Kloos said Kings Park (19-0) was ready for Floral Park, practicing defending against the unconventional ways its opponent would end up tipping and dumping the ball.

Junior outside hitter Sam Schultz, who finished with 12 digs and seven kills, and junior middle hitter Kara Haase, who added nine digs and eight kills, were also important contributors.

It’s been familiar stages for the Kings Park, and for the past three years, the Kingsmen have also seen a familiar foe at the county level.

Prior to the Long Island win, the dynasty did it again, as No. 1 Kings Park swept No. 2 Westhampton for the third straight year, 25-10, 25-15 and 25-13 for the Kingsmen’s sixth Suffolk Class A title.

Westhampton was plagued by unforced errors throughout the matchup, committing five of them in the first set alone to fall behind 16-7. Kloos made here presence known early, and spiked a kill shot that put her team out front 18-7, as Westhampton called timeout to try and throw Kings Park off balance.

It didn’t work, and as the team spread the ball around, the powerhouse surged ahead 23-9 looking to end the set early. And it did.

“A lot of hard work goes into it — the amount of practice we have to do to be able to execute [on the court],” Kloos said following the county win. “To be able to win another [championship] for the program is just amazing.”

“As a program, we still have a lot to prove. As time evolves we have a target on our back.”

— Ed Manly

The senior earned her fourth Suffolk and Long Island titles.

Dig after dig the Kingsmen got the ball to the junior Haley Holmes, and the setter spread the wealth. She aided the team in breaking out to a 13-5 advantage in the second set.

“It takes a lot of practice,” said Holmes, who finished with 28 assists and 10 digs against Floral Park. “We come to practice every day and we were ready for this. Our defense was perfect and that made it easy for me; the hitters just killed it.”

Kings Park continued to capitalize on Westhampton’s unforced errors, and surged ahead 23-15. On a bad serve, Westhampton handed Kings Park the break point, and the Kingsmen did what they’ve done all season, and put the set away, 25-15.

“Our energy, our intensive focus — every point we were mentally engaged, we knew where we needed to be, we knew our assignments,” Kings Park head coach Ed Manly said. “It was very hard. Our girls just work tirelessly all year long to play in this game. This is why you play volleyball, and we have the best kids around.”

Junior middle hitter Erika Benson, who had five kills and two blocks in the Long Island championship game, said her group continues to pull through and win as a team.

“Every game is a challenge, ” she said. “Our energy on and off the court never stopped. We never had a dull moment.”

Westhampton managed one last kill shot before Kings Park took the county title.

Having depth and help from all over makes Kings Park a contender for the state title. The team has to get through Glens Falls first, in the state semifinals Nov. 19. The Kingsmen have yet to take home a state title in the last five years.

“As a program, we still have a lot to prove,” Manly said. “As time evolves we have a target on our back. There are times when our kids feel like they’re not given the same credit as other teams around, for one reason or another, so they’re really inspired to play solid volleyball all of the time.”

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Sohpomore guard Nora Gabel drives the baseline in Comsewogue's triple overtime loss to Westhampton on Jan. 30. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

It took three overtime periods to decide the Comsewogue girls’ basketball team’s fate Saturday, when the Warriors fell Westhampton, 59-57, after both teams were deadlocked at 41 points apiece at the end of regulation.

“We all wanted it so bad,” Comsewogue junior Stephanie Collins said of winning the game. “We wanted to come out and have a good last home game. We all just gave it our all. We hit some key shots, but I never thought it would go to three overtimes.”

The Warriors broke out to a 10-2 lead early in the game before the Hurricanes picked up speed, taking a one-point lead into the second quarter. Comsewogue battled back to outscore its opponent 13-7 over the next eight minutes, to take a 25-20 advantage into the halftime break.

Junior forward Samantha Collins reached for the rim. Photo by Bill Landon
Junior forward Samantha Collins reached for the rim. Photo by Bill Landon

Westhampton scored five unanswered points to tie the game at 25-25, but Collins went to the line shooting two and swished both to help her team edge ahead 27-25 with just under four minutes left in the third.

In the final seconds of the period, with the game retied at 32-32, the Hurricanes let a fall-away jumper go at the buzzer, which hit its mark to help the team edge ahead 34-32 to begin the final quarter.

Collins went to the line shooting two, and again netted both to tie the game at 34-34 with just over five minutes left in regulation. Collins was 9-for-10 at the charity stripe, and led her team in scoring, along with sophomore Nora Gabel. The two hit the scoreboard with 20 points apiece.

Both teams traded points while the clock unwound, and Westhampton hit a field goal to bring the game to 41-41 with 40 seconds on the clock.

With 3.9 seconds left, Westhampton inbounded the ball only to have it picked off by Comsewogue’s Sofia Colocho. The Warriors immediately called time out.

With time for one more play, Comsewogue junior guard Megan Turner dribbled to the top of the key, but didn’t have a clear look. Head coach Joe Caltagirone barked from the sideline for his team to shoot the ball. Turner didn’t like the look, but let the ball fly. Her attempt just rimmed out at the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.

“It was a great effort, especially on a Saturday morning coming off a loss to Islip that officially eliminated us from the playoffs, but they came out with everything they had,” Caltagirone said. “Westhampton is very good. They’re stingy on defense, so getting them in foul trouble was big, and to be able to come up with some loose ball rebounds.”

Senior forward and captain Toni Ann Velazquez scores. Photo by Bill Landon
Senior forward and captain Toni Ann Velazquez scores. Photo by Bill Landon

Gabel was busy at the charity stripe netting both in her overtime appearance at the line, to help her team take a 43-41 lead with 2:47 left to play. Westhampton answered back with two points from the line, and with 43 seconds remaining, Gabel swished two more free throws to help her team retake the lead, 45-43. The Hurricanes tried to counter with their appearance at the charity stripe, but split  the attempts, to make it a one-point game.

Again, Gabel went to the line with two attempts, but missed her mark on one, pushing her team ahead 46-44 with 17.3 seconds on the clock.

Desperate to score in the final seconds, Westhampton tried to force a shot and ended up drawing a foul as the clock expired. Westhampton senior Madison Skala matter-of-factly sank both of her shots to retie the game at 46-46, forcing a second overtime period.

Two of Westhampton’s starters fouled out to give Comsewogue an edge, but the Warriors had three players with four fouls.

At the 1:36 mark of the next four minutes, Westhampton edged ahead 50-48 as the clock wound down to 15 seconds. Comsewogue’s final shot from the outside missed, but senior captain and forward Toni Ann Velazquez was right there with the putback to kept the Warriors alive for a final overtime session.

“I think we played a hell of a game,” Velazquez said. “Although we didn’t win, I think it was a great way to end our last home game. That our defense was able to hold them down and not foul as much as they did was very important.”

Gabel opened the third overtime period with another pair of free throws for a 52-50 advantage, but Westhampton answered with a pair of field goals to retake the lead, 54-52. Comsewogue freshman guard Julianna Watson took matters into her own hands as she muscled her way to the rim from the paint for a field goal, but the Hurricanes tacked on a three-point play to pull ahead 57-54 with 27 seconds left in the third overtime period.

Sophomore guard Nora Gabel hits her game-tying trifecta. Photo by Bill Landon
Sophomore guard Nora Gabel hits her game-tying trifecta. Photo by Bill Landon

As the clock wound down to eight seconds, Gabel drained a three-pointer to tie the game, and Westhampton immediately called for a timeout.

“I don’t even know what set that up,” Gabel said. “It’s not a set play, but it was pretty hectic out there, so I dribbled over and found an open shot. We needed three to tie it up, so I went for it, and luckily, it went in.”

In the little time remaining, the Hurricanes inbounded the ball and threw deep to the paint, finding the net as the buzzer blared to win the game 59-57. Comsewogue fell to 3-8 in League V, while Westhampton improved to 7-4.

“We had a couple of miscues early that cost us some opportunities early in the game,” Caltagirone said. “But it was a great game, a clutch shot by Nora for that three, so it was a total team effort.”

Behind scoring leaders Gabel and Collins, Velazquez finished with eight points while Colocho netted five. Watson and Turner rounded out the scoring banking two points each.

Comsewogue will close its season on the road on Feb. 8 against Sayville. Tipoff is at 4 p.m.

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Comsewogue’s Justin Virga stops the ball at home in the Warriors’ 7-4 win over Westhampton on May 11. Photo by Bill Landon
Comsewogue’s Dan Colasanto, who went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI, hurls a pitch from the mound in the Warriors’ 7-4 win over Westhampton on May 11. The win helped Comsewogue claim sole possession of first place with a 16-3 mark in League VI. Photo by Bill Landon
Comsewogue’s Dan Colasanto, who went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI, hurls a pitch from the mound in the Warriors’ 7-4 win over Westhampton on May 11. The win helped Comsewogue claim sole possession of first place with a 16-3 mark in League VI. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

The League VI title is on the line for the Comsewogue baseball team.

The Warriors took one step closer to claiming that elusive title and the first-round bye after topping Westhampton at home Monday afternoon for the team’s seventh win in a row, to break the first place tie, as both teams were tied 15-3 at the top of the standings.

Westhampton scored first, but the Warriors rallied in the bottom of the fourth inning and fended off a late comeback-effort to earn a 7-4 win.

Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the fourth, Comsewogue’s bats came alive.

The runs started adding up when Robert Dattoma’s hit drove in Dan Colasanto to tie the game. Jordan Lisco set up the next scoring opportunity when he singled to right field, putting runners on both corners.

Ryan Szalay’s bat spoke next when he hit a line drive to right center that drove home Dattoma for a 2-1 lead, and Mike Stiles struck next when he laid down a perfect bunt and beat the throw to first.

Erik Bono stepped into the batters’ box and waited for his pitch. He smacked the ball deep to right field to bring home Lisco and Szalay, to give the Warriors a 4-1 advantage.

Comsewogue’s Erik Bono takes a cut in the Warriors’ 7-4 win over Westhampton on May 11. Photo by Bill Landon
Comsewogue’s Erik Bono takes a cut in the Warriors’ 7-4 win over Westhampton on May 11. Photo by Bill Landon

“I knew it was going to be a tough game today — we had to come out strong after they scored first,” said Lisco, who went 3-for-4 with a run. “We came back and took the lead and we had good, solid defense, and when you can do that, you win baseball games.”

The Warriors weren’t done for the inning.

Vin Velazquez stepped to the plate and hit a fly ball that dropped into the gap to move Bono over to third, and John Braun finished the job with a shot to left field to bring Bono across the plate as the team surged ahead, 5-1.

Having given up five unanswered runs, Westhampton made a pitching change to try to stop further damage from being done, but Colasanto, back at the plate for the second time in the inning, had something to say first, when he ripped one deep for a stand-up double that scored Velazquez for a 6-1 lead.

Comsewogue’s Justin Virga makes a catch at home plate in the Warriors’ 7-4 win over Westhampton on May 11. The win helped Comsewogue claim sole possession of first place with a 16-3 mark in League VI. Photo by Bill Landon
Comsewogue’s Justin Virga makes a catch at home plate in the Warriors’ 7-4 win over Westhampton on May 11. The win helped Comsewogue claim sole possession of first place with a 16-3 mark in League VI. Photo by Bill Landon

“We have a great group of guys,” Szalay said. “Once we get a hit, we all start to hit, and the game- changer was when Dan Colasanto got that RBI-double.”

Westhampton tacked on a run in the top of the fifth, and threatened with one out and two runners in scoring position. Colasanto was able to pitch his way out of the jam though, as he got the batter to ground out to Dattoma, the short stop, who quickly flicked the ball to second and helped his team turn the double play to end the inning.

“We knew coming in we could beat these guys — we all just needed to stay loose,” said Colasanto, who went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI. “I told the team that if we stayed loose, kept the chants going and have some fun, we could win it.”

Mike Stiles took over the mound at the top of the sixth, and Westhampton scored two more runs to bring the score to 6-4 before Stiles was able to work his way out of the inning with a strikeout.

“We’ve been able to play error-free baseball all year long,” Comsewogue head coach Mike Bonura said. “Our strong points are our defense and the mound. We’ve struggled with hitting, and obviously you’ve got to hit to score runs to win ball games, but today we finally put a good part of the bat on the ball.”

Comsewogue’s Mike Stiles tosses a pitch in a 1-2-3 inning that helped the Warriors claim a 7-4 win over Westhampton on May 11. The win helped Comsewogue claim sole possession of first place with a 16-3 mark in League VI. Photo by Bill Landon
Comsewogue’s Mike Stiles tosses a pitch in a 1-2-3 inning that helped the Warriors claim a 7-4 win over Westhampton on May 11 and sole possession of first place in League VI. Photo by Bill Landon

In the bottom of the sixth with a man on base, Dattoma cracked one to right field for added insurance.

Comsewogue needed three outs in the top of the seventh and Stiles answered the call, putting the game away with a 1-2-3 inning.

“We knew we needed to win this,” Dattoma said. “It’s been a while since we got a title; we’re hungry. We were looking for a little revenge and we got it today. For the playoffs, we’ve got to stay mentally tough, don’t let bad at-bats get in our head, and just work on the next one.”

With one game left in the regular season, Comsewogue traveled to Harborfields Wednesday, but results were not available by press time. A win would give the Warriors the league title and first-round bye for the playoffs.

“We’re all rested and if we get a bye, that’s huge because it’s all about pitching,” Bonura said. “Anyone’s No. 1 can beat anyone. Our pitching staff is healthy, and I’ve got plenty of them.”