Algieri Reclaims Title At MSG Fight

Chris Algieri, left, throws a body punch during his victory over Danny Gonzalez at MSG.  Photos/Star Boxing

Chris Algieri, left, throws a body punch during his victory over Danny Gonzalez at MSG. Photos/Star Boxing

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

Huntington’s Chris Algieri continued his successful return to the ring Saturday night when he defeated Danny Gonzalez under the lights at Madison Square Garden for the WBO International Super Lightweight title.

Algieri won the 10-round bout in a unanimous decision by scores of 98-92, 97-93 and 96-94.

Algieri controlled the opening rounds using his agility and footwork to attack the body of Gonzalez from the outside. His high punch rate caused problems for Gonzalez early in the fight.

Gonzalez settled in and dominated the action in the second half of the fight, especially after an accidental head butt late in the seventh round opened a cut under Algieri’s left eye.

Chris Algieri celebrates his victory by unanimous decision against Danny Gonzalez under the lights at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 19.

Chris Algieri celebrates his victory by unanimous decision against Danny Gonzalez under the lights at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 19.

Gonzalez's late offensive effort left Algieri disappointed, despite the victory.

"I am my biggest critic, my performance wasn't my best,” Algieri said after the fight. “But we got the win, we got the belt and I'm moving on."

The win puts Algieri on the short list for a fight against current WBO light welterweight title-holder Maurice Hooker.

Algieri said he could “turn it up when I need it” if given the chance to fight Hooker for the belt.

He said, “I have always been the guy that can pull off the unexpected."

Whitman Girls Take Aim At Post-Season

Sophomore forward Jenna Stockfeder (15) goes for a shot on the Lady Wildcats’ home court.

Sophomore forward Jenna Stockfeder (15) goes for a shot on the Lady Wildcats’ home court.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

The Walt Whitman girls varsity basketball team is setting its sights on playoffs and as long as players stay consistent, the team could have a chance at the championship.

So far the Wildcats are 8-6 overall and 5-5 in league play this season. Head coach Dan Trebour feels the team is competitive enough to make the playoffs. If the team wins the next three of their six games, they will be on their way.
“We have six league games left and we were 5-1 against these six teams the first time through. I’d like to think we could do the same or better,” Trebour said.
The Wildcats played against Lindenhurst Wednesday, and will face off against Connetquot on Jan. 25 and Smithtown West at home on Jan. 29. The team is looking forward to the Lindenhurst game. They beat the Bulldogs the first time around, and a will take them one step closer to playoffs.
Trebour admits he has a small roster, but utilizes his players’ abilities wisely.

“We have a balanced team as far as scoring with our guards and forwards,” Trebour said. “We just want to keep that balance heading into the rest of the season.”

Of the ten players on the team, five are returning seniors and three are returning starters, the team’s captains.

Walt Whitman senior guard Desiree Kleberg (13) dribbles past opponents.

Walt Whitman senior guard Desiree Kleberg (13) dribbles past opponents.

Danielle Kleet has started as point guard for four years and is a strong three-point shooter. Desiree Kleberg demonstrates her athleticism as a starting forward, doing a great job getting to the basket. Coming off knee surgery, Meghan Soulias, a versatile and smart player, was eager to get back on the court.

“I feel we have some experience that returned from last year, so that consistency from last season certainly is a strength… With those three, it’s a nice trio to work around,” Trebour said. “They’re as good as any team’s top players.”

Unfortunately, this season Trebour feels the team has been hit with an “injury bug”. As Soulias returned to the court from surgery, he lost two more players to injured.

“As much consistency that we have with returners, it’s been tough to deal with shuffling of players and lineups,” Trebour said.

Preparing for their upcoming games, the Wildcats will evaluate previous games against the teams they will battle once more, looking to make improvements and see what succeeded. To break out of the monotony of practice, Trebour likes to introduce new drills.

“Some of the things that we’re trying to improve on is just taking care of the ball and rebounding, keeping the teams off the offensive board,” Trebour said.

The girls have put in hard work all year as preparation, attending training camps during the summer and playing together in the offseason.

“It’s a great group of kids,” Trebour said. “I think with all their hard work, we will reap the benefits come playoff time.”

In Trebour’s 20 years of coaching at Walt Whitman, the Wildcats have made it to playoffs 18 of the 19 seasons. This season he hopes to see his team advance through playoffs once again.

“We are consistently a competitive team that finds themselves in the playoffs,” Trebour said.

He is aided by assistant coach, Ed Garrone, a long-time coach within the district who Trebour finds to be a “total asset” to the program. With the experience they share combined, the team is in good hands.

“We are products of our own experiences, mine has been a number of years coaching,” Trebour said. “I think you take what you’ve done in the past and try to learn from it… You hope that when you look at your team, you can understand the strengths and weaknesses. You’re just trying to do what’s best for the team.”

Swimmers Look To Finish Strong… Again

Seven of the team’s eight seniors, many of whom have grown up swimming together.

Seven of the team’s eight seniors, many of whom have grown up swimming together.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

The Half Hollow Hills boys varsity swim team has a winning record that spans years. The team is hoping to continue the streak.

Hills swimmers are undefeated for the past 11 years and are currently at 7-0. The boys won their most recent meet over Connetquot, 101-80.

Head coach, Nina Cunningham hopes to continue the team’s streak as County Champions since 2007.

“We have two more meets left this season and my anticipation is we will continue our undefeated streak,” Cunningham said.

She credits her team’s success to the camaraderie among the swimmers and the fact that many make a year-long commitment to practicing. Although the team lost some top athletes to graduation from last year’s squad, Cunningham feels they picked up plenty of young talent.

“We have a lot of depth within our program,” Cunningham said. “This is our smallest team in a long time. We have 29 athletes; I would say 16 of them swim all year round, so that gives us a big advantage.”

Swimmer Kabir Randhawa puts power into his butterfly stroke.

Swimmer Kabir Randhawa puts power into his butterfly stroke.

One of the reasons Hills swimmers are dominate is that many of its members practicing with club teams. Offseason work is crucial for swimmers to maintain and improve their race pace, she said.

“Everyone can walk or run, but not everyone can swim or float,” Cunningham said. “It’s a different skill set that lends a better advantage when you swim year round.”

Four of her swimmers have qualified for the state championship meet, including the team’s three captains: Senior captain Kabir Randhawa has been a state finalist for the past three years and is favored to win the 500-yards freestyle; Corey Sherman, a senior captain, qualified for the states in the medley relay; and senior captain Matt Park, a News 12 Scholar Athlete scholarship winner, will also go to States for the 500 freestyle.

Sophomore Ben Glazebnik will join them at the state meet in the 50 freestyle race.

In preparation for the meet, each swimmer will have individualized and specialized practices.

“I’m going to up the distance work, work my walls a lot more, and do more double practices,” Randhawa said. “I’m setting my mind on that first place finish, but in the end all I care about is helping the team. It’s the team that sets us apart.”

For the captains, it’s important to set a good example, while staying engaged with their fellow teammates.

Practice, practice, practice – all year ’round–keeps Half Hollow Hills swim team heading to the state championships, says coach Nina Cunningham.

Practice, practice, practice – all year ’round–keeps Half Hollow Hills swim team heading to the state championships, says coach Nina Cunningham.

“As captains, we do our best to motivate them and build team bonds,” Randhawa said.

All of the captains have been on the team since 8th or 9th grade, growing up and learning the team’s values.

“Something my captains always told me is to just work hard, stay quiet behind the block and afterwards show some great sportsmanship,” Randhawa said. “I think that’s what I try to show these kids today.”

The team is composed of swimmers of all skill levels, from swimmers working to perfect their flip turn to state finalists. Cunningham finds unity amongst her team when they collaborate to help one another out.

“We tend to do stations, group work and technique work,” Cunningham said. “I have my more experienced swimmers working with my new swimmers, which fosters a lot of camaraderie.”

These methods focus the athletes because they are either responsible in aiding their fellow teammate or are learning and working on their skills.

“Swimming is what it is,” Cunningham said. “There’s breathing tricks, paddles and pool activities that you can do to break up the monotony. But it’s still two walls, a starting block and you have to go back and forth faster than the person next to you.”

As the head coach for the boys and girls varsity team for three years, Cunningham has clearly set out her expectations, “to come, be present, listen, try your hardest and do your best.”

Although, the State Championship does not give out a title, Half Hollow Hills scored the highest amount of points twice in the last three years and hope to do so once again. Their end goal remains the same to win County Championships another year.

“We’ve been CountyChamps for the past 12 years and we want to keep that legacy going,” Randhawa said. “We tell our swimmers and teammates, that it’s not about being cocky. Be confident, but stay humble.”

Back-To-Back Tourneys Test Blue Devils

Huntington junior Aedan McDonald won the 132 lbs. tournament championship at the Kohl Invitational.

Huntington junior Aedan McDonald won the 132 lbs. tournament championship at the Kohl Invitational.

Huntington wrestlers captured weight class titles in both wrestling tournaments the Blue Devils have competed in so far this month.

On Jan. 5, the Huntington High School wrestling team cast aside its struggles in dual meets this winter and turned in an impressive display at the 26th annual Herricks New Year’s Invitational tournament.

The Blue Devils faced off against teams from Herricks, East Meadow, Great Neck North, Hempstead, Massapequa, St. John the Baptist, Southampton and Ward Melville.

The Blue Devils were led by freshman Lucas Cirlincione in the 99-pound weight class and Tazadon Smith at 220 pounds. Both wrestlers captured their weight class championships.

Joe Petrone at 99 pounds, Aedan McDonald and Zach Zboray at 132 pounds, Ryan Baker at 138 pounds and Jon Koumas at 182 pounds all garnered second place honors.

Cirlincione won five matches, including an 8-7 decision, 18-1 technical fall and pins in times of 0:58, 1:43 and 2:30, and Smith pinned all five of his opponents in times of 1:24, 3:20, 0:57, 1:49 and 1:03.

Petrone went 4-1 on the day, including pins in times of 5:50, 3:30, 1:16 and 1:02, while Baker also went 4-1 with four pins coming in times of 1:59, 3:45, 1:23 and 0:38.

McDonald, Zboray and Koumas all went 3-1 in the Herricks tournament. McDonald and Zboray each recorded two pins and Koumas notched one pin.

The Blue Devils traveled to Suffern High School in upstate Rockland County on Jan. 12 for the Kohl Invitational. The Blue Devils finished fourth in the team standings in a field of eight squads.

Monroe-Woodbury finished first with 249.5 points, Sayville placed second with 191.5 points, third place Suffern managed a score of 175, Huntington captured fourth with 134 points, Mineola scored 101.5 points for fifth place; Pearl River came in sixth with 57, East Ramapo finished seventh with 54 points and Burke Catholic was last with 33 points.

Huntington wrestlers McDonald and Smith led the Blue Devils squad, capturing their weight class championships.

McDonald pinned Mineola’s Ezequiel Claros in 3:35 in the 132-pound finals. Smith defeated Sayville’s Nick DeStefano in the 220-pound finals in a 9-7 decision.

Petrone placed second at 99 pounds, falling in the finals to Sayville’s Mack Murtha, 10-3.

Huntington’s Robbie Smith lost a tight match in the finals of the 170-pound weight class to East Ramapo’s Jonathan Lafortune by a score of 7-6.

The Blue Devils will look to turn tournament success into dual meet victory when they host Cold Spring Harbor in a non-league match on Friday night.

Huntington Track Stars Are Among LI’s Best

Huntington’s Johnathan Smith, left, is the fastest 300m sprinter on Long Island this winter with a time of 34.98 seconds. Senior Jaden Bholan, right, is third in high jump in Suffolk with a jump of 6-03 feet.  Photos/Huntington Schools

Huntington’s Johnathan Smith, left, is the fastest 300m sprinter on Long Island this winter with a time of 34.98 seconds. Senior Jaden Bholan, right, is third in high jump in Suffolk with a jump of 6-03 feet. Photos/Huntington Schools

Huntington High School has some of Long Island’s brightest track and field stars, including senior Johnathan Smith, one of the top high school runners in the country.

Smith capped off another incredible day of performances by winning the gold medal in the 600m run last weekend at the 2019 Freedom Games at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex at Staten Island.

Smith’s first place time of 1:21.61 set a new Freedom Games meet record and ranks him first over all in New York State and second in the United States this winter in the 600m run.

Over the weekend Smith also improved his rankings in the 300m dash to Long Island number one, New York number three and 11th in the country with a third place finish in 34.98 seconds at the Freedom Games.

Only three other Blue Devils have ever dipped below 35 seconds in the 300m dash. Smith’s time is the fourth fastest ever by a Huntington athlete. Kyree Johnson (33.85 seconds), Lawrence Leake (34.65 seconds) and Y’Majesty Allen (34.80 seconds) hold the top three spots in Blue Devil history.

In the field events, Huntington senior Jaden Bholan is among the best high jumpers in the state.

Bholan is ranked number three in Suffolk, fourth on Long Island and number 10 in New York State in the high jump this winter. The Blue Devils star cleared a height of 6-03 feet earlier this season to put him among the top athletes in the event.

The Blue Devils will look to continue their dominance on the track ahead of the state qualifying meet at St. Anthony’s High School on Feb. 11.

Northport's Tigers Are Hungry To Win

Northport’s controlled passing is a key strategy. Here, Jake Santamaria (20) passes to a teammate.  Photo/Andrew D’Eloia

Northport’s controlled passing is a key strategy. Here, Jake Santamaria (20) passes to a teammate. Photo/Andrew D’Eloia

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

For the Northport boys varsity basketball team, it’s all about staying focused on what matters, working together as a collective to achieve victory.

The Tigers have come to the court fiercely this season, amassing a 7-3 overall record. At their most recent game against Lindenhurst on Jan. 7, the boys found themselves victorious, 61-42. Head coach Andrew D’Eloia feels the team has a lot of young talent who have grown into their roles.

“We’ve gotten better as the season’s progressed and at the halfway mark, we are very happy with where we are,” D’Eloia said.

The team is 4-2 in League II, a league that D’Eloia finds “very competitive” this year. Going into their game against Connetquot on Jan. 9, who is 5-1 in League II, the players were prepared for a challenge.

Evan Kelly (14) shoots from the corner for three.  Photo/Andrew D’Eloia

Evan Kelly (14) shoots from the corner for three. Photo/Andrew D’Eloia

 “Our league is so competitive that we legitimately do not look ahead,” D’Eloia said. “On any given night, in League II basketball, any team could beat any other team.”

D’Eloia attributes his team’s accomplishments to the synergy among his players, the hard work they put in during the offseason and their cohesiveness during plays.

“We have a style of play that has been a successful formula over the years,” D’Eloia said. “We play unselfish basketball on the offensive end and we typically mix up and have pride in our defense.”

This formula has helped D’Eloia to establish a baseline plan that can be tweaked based on players’ abilities and styles. When the team is on offense, they will pass to each other often to ensure a shot is made.

“We make the extra pass to get a great shot, instead of just a good shot,” D’Eloia said. “I don’t think the individuals on our team care who gets the point, it’s a matter of what the defense is giving us.”

This quick passing allows the Tigers to score.

Senior Ian Melamerson, their “big man”, has had an outstanding season so far, standing out as an asset for rebounds. He averages 13 points a game and gets to the foul line often.

Junior guard Sean Walsh is their leading scorer, averaging 17 points. This season he has learned to become a “complete” player that improves the team overall. Sophomore Pat Healy, has stepped up a starter, doing a great job handling the ball and averaging 13 points a game.

D’Eloia does not have any captains on the team, instead he gives the duty of leadership to every player.

“We use the term ‘collective responsibility’, so everyone is a leader,” D’Eloia said.

This is D’Eloia’s seventh year as head coach for Northport. Before that, he volunteered as an assistant coach for Northport, coached at Bishop Ford High School in Brooklyn and was an assistant coach at Hunter College in Manhattan. During his time at Hunter, he coached under Shay Berry, who coached in the Ivy Leagues for 17 years.

“I learned a tremendous amount from him, in terms of how Ivy League basketball is played,” D’Eloia said. “I implement a lot of the tactics and strategies from the practice planning, player development and scouting I did during that time. It was definitely a helpful experience in my coaching development.”

After finishing their 11th game, the Tigers only have nine games left in their regular season to bring their hard work and passion to the court. Looking ahead, the coaches have preached to their players that the most important game is the next one they play. If they begin to look forward to certain games, the team could lose focus on their present challenge and slip up.

“Every game is important,” D’Eloia said. “We only play 20 games this season, if you start looking ahead to any other game than the one you’re going to play, you lose.”

The team’s goal every year is to make it to playoffs and compete for a chance at the league title. In such a competitive league, the upcoming games are important.

“Every team in the league pretty much has 10 more games left, so a lot can happen,” D’Eloia said. “We just gotta stay focused, do our best and try to win as many as possible.”

The team will face Smithtown West on Jan. 11 and Copiague at home on Jan. 14.

Wrestling Club Builds Future Stars

The Wildcat Youth Wrestling Club helps develop wrestling skills in children grades kindergarten to eighth grade.

The Wildcat Youth Wrestling Club helps develop wrestling skills in children grades kindergarten to eighth grade.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Once a child develops a love for a sport, it becomes a physical activity that teaches them not just technique and endurance, but skills that will stay with them for a lifetime.

The Wildcat Youth Wrestling Club’s mission is to form the kids into lifetime wrestlers with a positive outlook on this challenging sport. After being exposed to wrestling at a young age, the club’s coach Michael McGuinness said kids naturally progress to join junior high and varsity wrestling teams.

“This sport is a marathon, more than a sprint,” McGuinness said. “What we’re concerned about is teaching the kids to be champions on the mat through high school and champions in life.”

The Wildcats goal is to create a “wrestling culture” in the South Huntington school district. The school district has a strong wrestling tradition aided by the Wildcats work with younger students. The club starts teaching the basics to kids as early as kindergarten, and continues until eight grade.

“We start them young, learning basic fundamentals in a good atmosphere,” McGuinness said.

Wildcat wrestlers practice their moves.

Wildcat wrestlers practice their moves.

The Wildcats consist of 60 junior wrestlers, and McGuinness hopes at least half of them fall in love with the sport and stick with it through high school.

“It’s about creating a culture and building a foundation for these kids, but also having fun and teaching them to give back,” McGuinness said.

For the boys who continue wrestling at Walt Whitman High School, their time spent together on the mat as children intensifies their connections.

“The hard work they put in during practice and the fun they’re having, will definitely strengthen their bonds that will hold on to throughout their school years and beyond,” McGuinness said.

During the team’s first competition at the East Meadow Tournament on Dec. 30, the Wildcats cheered each other on. Ryan Maoriana came out as a champion and Jack Tripoli, Lucas Ryan, Jackson Cruise, and Michael McGuinness earned runner-up in their weight class.

“They get a little bit of competition to reinforce what we teach them on the mat and put themselves in that pressure environment where it’s just them out there and they have to perform,” McGuinness said.

Young wrestlers learn to love the sport in the Wildcat Youth Wrestling program.

Young wrestlers learn to love the sport in the Wildcat Youth Wrestling program.

The club’s next competition is this weekend at the East Islip Tournament. McGuinness, along with coaches Frank Tripoli, Michael Engel and Chris Oberding will evaluate each child’s abilities before putting them into a match-up to ensure that they are ready.

“We don’t stress competition as much as learning technique, having fun and being positive,” McGuinness said. “Wrestling is a tough sport, it’s not like any other sport.”

The Wildcats season will culminate at their annual Saint Patrick’s day Wrestling Festival on March 16 at Walt Whitman High School. Last year’s festival attracted 350 youth wrestlers.

“This is the capstone event of the season,” McGuinness said. “If you want to see everyone compete, even if someone hasn’t competed this season, we want to get everyone on the mat and apply what they’ve learned.”

The wrestling festival also acts as a fundraiser for the Walt Whitman varsity wrestling team, raising money for uniforms, training camp sponsorships and a senior scholarship. High school wrestlers are in charge of setting up and running the tournament, setting an example for the younger students by donating their time.

“Wrestling is the type of sport that you try to give back to it, because of all that it has given you,” McGuinness said.

McGuinness grew up wrestlingin South Huntington, and feels he learned a lot about hard work and perseverance during that time. He would later go on to aid the formation of the Wildcat Youth Wrestling Club under Whitman legend, Vin Altebrando.

As Whitman’s head varsity wrestling coach for 24 years prior to his unexpected passing, Altebrando oversaw and influenced South Huntington’s wrestling programs. He would leave his mark by forming the Wildcats and lives on through the many lives he touched. This is the first season the club has gone on without him. But he will not be forgotten by wrestlers, who know their involvement honors his legacy.

“He prioritized the program, which made everyone even more committed to honoring his legacy and carrying on what he started,” McGuinness said.

Children that are interested in wrestling can still join the club this season by e-mailing wildcatsyouthwrestlingclub@gmail.com.

Elwood Wrestlers Start Off With A Win

The John Glenn wrestling team dominated at its first tournament with five wrestlers bringing home first-place trophies. The squad hopes to carry similar success into the post-season.

The John Glenn wrestling team dominated at its first tournament with five wrestlers bringing home first-place trophies. The squad hopes to carry similar success into the post-season.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

The John Glenn wrestling team has been preparing all year to take down their opponents on the mat and are looking to triumph this season.

To kick off the year, the Knights competed in the Eastchester Invitational tournament and dominated, with five of their wrestlers claiming first place. Their champions were Alex Hopkins at 113 lbs., Thomas Giaramita at 152 lbs., Justin Vega at 182 lbs., Jordan Curiale at 222 lbs. and Patrick Ancewicz at 285 lbs.

Their first dual meet against Hampton Bays, led to a victory of 67 to 9. This sets their record at 1-0. The team faced off against Shoreham on Wednesday night and will battle Mattituck on Friday, Dec. 21. After moving down a division this season, head coach, T.J. Brocking feels his boys will be a competitive team.

“We’ve been very successful for the past 15 years and we look to keep that going,” Brocking said.

His wrestlers have put in an immense amount work to conquer their opponents. Brocking works with his team every day at practice to perfect their core moves and style.

“I have a philosophy that we’re very basic, we do the fundamentals really well,” Brocking said.

According to Brocking, “real wrestlers wrestle in the offseason”. It is crucial for his players to attend camps and clinics, where they can pick up new techniques and strategies, while competing against other serious wrestlers around the state. In order to beat a challenger, the boys must be prepared for any situation they encounter on the mat.

“We have answers for what other people do to try to stop us or score against us,” Brocking said. “We do one thing, they do something, we have an answer for that. They do something different, we have an answer for that.”

This season, the Knights will compete in six tournaments and eight dual meets. During a dual meet, each wrestler has a single match to score points for the team, while a tournament could see a wrestler facing off up to five times. This is when wrestlers can gain the most experience and vie for an individual awards.

“The best way to get better at wrestling is spending more time actually wrestling,” Brocking said.

With only one starter per weight class, it is essential that a player earns this spot to represent their team.

“The good thing about wrestling is you got to beat the guy on the mat,” Brocking said. “That’s how we do it, we call them wrestle offs. If you both want to be starters at a weight class, it’s whoever wins that match that is the starter.”

The boys may have to fight one another to gain the starter spot, but the team bonds can endure.

“The tight knit group of wrestlers that we have, do everything together, so they’re very close,” Brocking said.

Leading the team is captain Jared Albert, who has been an asset for years and is expected to do great things this season. They have three returning all-league wrestlers, Thomas Giaramita, Justin Vega, and Patrick Ancewicz, who earned this distinction by winning many matches postseason. Jordan Curiale is off to a great start as well and is looking towards a bright future.

“We’ve got young kids that have been around for a long time,” Brocking said. “This is one of the youngest teams I’ve ever had but they grew up in the program, from the youth league up. We’re hoping they continue to develop and be their best in the postseason.”

As a coach for their community youth wrestling club, “The Blue Wave”, Brocking has witnessed some of his wrestlers grow up before his eyes. Starting as young as kindergarten, the club sets a foundation for future wrestlers.

“This experience is where the moves and techniques become second nature,” Brocking said. “The kids could do it no matter what’s going on, with their eyes closed, or in their sleep.”

The boys are looking forward to challenging Mount Sinai, the defending NY State Champions, and hope to “upset” them this season.

In Brocking’s 12 years coaching, the Knights have won the Suffolk Team Title four times, the League Championships eight times, had 19 all-state wrestlers, 11 county champions, 59 all-county wrestlers and sent 21 kids to wrestle in college. The team’s ultimate goal is to become NY State Champions, but first they must win the County Championships.

“The chance to be a sectional champ is a big goal this year,” Brocking said.

Swimmer Earns Gold At State Championships

Northport High School junior Chloe Stepanek swam to gold in the 100M and 200M freestyle events at the NYS championships.

Northport High School junior Chloe Stepanek swam to gold in the 100M and 200M freestyle events at the NYS championships.

By Sophia Ricco

sricco@longislandergroup.com

Northport junior Chloe Stepanek made waves at the Girls Swimming and Diving State Championships, winning first place in both the 200 and 100 yard freestyle, earning the title of “most outstanding athlete” at the meet.

Stepanek held nothing back at the State Championships, hosted at Ithaca College on Nov. 17. The energy was electric in the pool, with the bleachers packed and cheering for races. Stepanek set a personal best in the 100 freestyle, thanks to the rowdy spirit.

“It gets you pumped up and ready to swim,” Stepanek said.

Before the State Finals, Stepanek raced in preliminary rounds to secure a good lane in the pool and test her speed abilities. The day of finals, she remembers feeling excitement as she prepared in the “ready room” and walked out to her race. She was supported by the other girls from Suffolk’s Section XI who qualified for the meet. The swimmers all traveled together and are friends from club teams.

“The state meet definitely has a lot of energy and is one of the most fun high school meets we have,” Stepanek said. “Just being with your section and having the whole section cheer you on, everyone is really supportive.”

Stepanek shows off some of the hardware she brought home from the state championships.

Stepanek shows off some of the hardware she brought home from the state championships.

Stepanek went into the meet with little rest, preparing for States with intense training, but still represented her school with first place wins and high placing relays.

“While you are there to swim and compete, you want to make sure you enjoy your time with your team and have fun with your friends,” Stepanek said.

Even after winning the 200 freestyle, Stepanek feels there is room to improve her time.

“There were still things I came away from it with that I can work on, like my starts,” Stepanek said. “Even when you have a good time, you look at things you can improve on to go faster.”

It is crucial for her to train hard if she wants to drop time, along with weight training, eating well and getting enough sleep. Stepanek plans to continue her training and compete with Long Island Aquatic Club.

“Teammates are a very big part, I couldn’t train without them,” Stepanek said. “It’s very hard to swim by yourself, you need your teammates to motivate you during practice and to make it fun.”

As a junior, Stepanek still has one more season to prove herself at State Championships and beat her current times.

“I can’t believe it’ll be my last year of high school swimming, it’s really sad,” Stepanek said. “I can’t believe I only have one more year, but I’m gonna make the most of it, have a lot of fun with my team, and swim fast to see how fast I can really go.”

Thunderbirds Set To Roar This Season

Hills East’s Thunderbirds are on track to have a superb season, says coach Peter Basel.  Photos/Phil Orlando

Hills East’s Thunderbirds are on track to have a superb season, says coach Peter Basel. Photos/Phil Orlando

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

The boys varsity basketball team at Half Hollow Hills High School East is ready to kick off their season with high hopes for the future and a strong starting five.

So far, the team has scrimmaged against West Islip, John Glenn, and Westbury, teams that have each presented their own challenges to overcome. Head coach, Peter Basel took this time to observe his players in action and has made adjustments to tighten up their plays and clean up mistakes. He felt the team was improving from game to game.

“These guys will recognize in each other strengths as they keep playing together and getting use to each other’s game,” Basel said.

Last year, the team had a sensational season, winning the Long Island Championship and making it to State Finals.

HillsEastBasketball_2.jpg

Only two players have returned from last year’s starting five. Captains, Max Caspi and Shane Dean, the only players with experience starting, are role models to other players. This early in the season, Basel is still fitting all the pieces of his team together.

He plans on completing the starting five with Shamar Moore-Hough, Sam Russo and Grant Pitcoff. Last season, these players were backups, but this year, the boys are all rising to the challenge of their final season.

Shamar Moore-Hough played “phenomenally” during scrimmages and Basel is excited to see what he does this season. Sam Russo will start at point guard, a position he has been handling well so far, leaving Basel feeling confident in his abilities.

Grant Pitcoff will take the court as a starter forward. Basel said Pitcoff has grown taller, stronger and more confident in his game.

“It looks like we’re headed in the right direction with those three guys, as far filling out that starting five,” Basel said.

Basel brought up talented junior varsity players and two 8th graders to the team. In his 17 years of coaching, Basel has never had two 8th graders make the team, but feels it is justified with the skills and physicality both posses. Dante Green and Christian Bliss proved themselves playing with the team during the offseason, and Basel believes they will be an asset to the team right away.

“It’s warranted with the validity of these players skills and talents,” Basel said.

This season the team will play 16 league and four non-league games. Basel admits this is the most games he has seen on a schedule, making it crucial for the players to not become worn out.

“It’s important to give rest when rest is needed,” Basel said.

In his 17 years as head coach, Basel said his teams are most successful when he allowed his players time to relax. As the season progresses, he plans to give them time off during the weekends and breaks from school.

“We work them hard early in the season, then kinda cut it down once the second league game comes around,” Basel said. “I like to keep the kids fresh. I’m always throwing new drills at them and they’re always chomping at the bit to learn new drills to spice practices up.”

The team is able to lay off later in the season, since the players put in so much hard work during the offseason. The boys have been practicing and playing together since the summer league at St. Anthony’s and continued to train at Hills East’s fall ball.

“It gives the boys more opportunities to play together, work on their skills and represent Hills East to keep the tradition of winning going on,” Basel said.

This season, the team’s goal is to win the League II title for the third year in a row. After that, the team hopes to progress in the playoffs and “let the chips fall where they may”.

The team is most looking forward to playing against Northport, Smithtown West, Bay Shore and Connetquot, teams that will all give them a challenge. The team’s first games of the season will be against Bayport, Dec. 6 and East Meadow, Dec. 7.

Hills West Brings Home The LI Title

The Half Hollow Hills High School West football team celebrates its 34-6 victory over Plainedge in the Long Island Class III title game at Hofstra University on Nov. 24.  Photos/Phil Orlando/Half Hollow Hills

The Half Hollow Hills High School West football team celebrates its 34-6 victory over Plainedge in the Long Island Class III title game at Hofstra University on Nov. 24.
Photos/Phil Orlando/Half Hollow Hills

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

The Half Hollow Hills High School West football team showed that defense really does win championships on Saturday when they defeated Plainedge 34-6 to claim the Long Island Class III title.

The Colts halted Plainedge’s 11-game winning streak at Hofstra University, holding the Red Devils to just 6 points all game.

Junior running back Justin Brown scored the first points of the game late in the first quarter when he broke through the defense for a 75-yard touchdown run. Brown scored again in the fourth quarter and rushed for 166 yards in the game.

Senior quarterback Gerald Filardi avoids a tackle during the Colts 34-6 victory over Plainedge.

Senior quarterback Gerald Filardi avoids a tackle during the Colts 34-6 victory over Plainedge.

The game exploded into life late in the second quarter when senior running back Deyvon Wright extended the Colt’s lead with a 7-yard touchdown run.

The Red Devils responded with their only touchdown of the game less than a minute after Wright’s touchdown run, but Plainedge wasn’t able to celebrate for very long. Senior quarterback Gerald Filardi showed off his versatility when he returned the ensuing Red Devil kickoff 76 yards for a touchdown.

After the scoring flurry, Hills West took a 20-6 lead into the locker room at the end of the first half.

The Colts quickly extended their lead at the start of the third quarter when Wright capped off the opening drive with a 49-yard touchdown run.

Plainedge’s second quarter touchdown was the first and only hiccup for the Colts defense.

Linebackers senior Michael Carubia and junior Joey Venezia were strong in the heart of the Colt defense. Carubia led the team with tackles, while Venezia had seven.

Junior defensive back Eliot Porter helped keep the Plainedge offense off the field with two interceptions in the game.

Brown’s fourth quarter touchdown run finished off the 34-6 victory for the Colts, the team’s second in program history.

“Our hard work showed today,” Wright said after the game. “I’m proud of me and my guys.”

Seahawks Win First LI Title In 13 Years

The Cold Spring Harbor Seahawks celebrate their Long Island Class IV title after defeating Shoreham-Wading River 42-20 at Stony Brook University on Nov. 23.

The Cold Spring Harbor Seahawks celebrate their Long Island Class IV title after defeating Shoreham-Wading River 42-20 at Stony Brook University on Nov. 23.

By Connor Beach

cbeach@longislandergroup.com

Five years ago the Cold Spring Harbor Football team had only one win to celebrate at the end of their season. The team completed a remarkable turnaround last Friday when they defeated Shoreham-Wading River to capture the Long Island Class IV title.

“I’m so proud of you,” coach Jon Mendreski told his team after the game. “Every one of you guys deserves this.”

The Seahawks hoisted the Long Island championship trophy for the first time since 2005 after a dominant performance in which they scored 42 points against a usually stout Wildcat defense.

Quarterback Ray Costa opened the scoring for the Seahawks with 12-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Thomas Milana.

Cold Spring Harbor’s defense also set the tone early in the first quarter, forcing the Wildcats to punt on their first drive.

Senior tight end Aidan Adomaites celebrates after catching a seven-yard touchdown pass for the Seahawks.

Senior tight end Aidan Adomaites celebrates after catching a seven-yard touchdown pass for the Seahawks.

The Seahawks faced a challenge in the second quarter as the Wildcats began to gain some momentum on offense, but Costa and the Seahawks offense kept pace.

After the Wildcats tied the game with just over three minutes to play in the second quarter, the senior quarterback led the Seahawks on a touchdown drive that finished with a seven-yard pass to senior tight end Aidan Adomaites in the end zone.

The Seahawks led 21-14 at halftime, and senior running back Danny Striano helped the team pull away in the second half.

Striano rushed for three touchdowns from 1, 2 and 38 yards in the second half on his way to 215 rushing yards in the game. Striano’s performance on the ground helped the Seahawks dominate possession and the clock in the second half during which the Wildcats managed to score only one touchdown.

“Everyone did their jobs out there, and we were extremely motivated,” Striano said.

The Seahawks racked up nearly 400 yards of total offense in the win.

The Long Island championship was the third in program history for the Seahawks, who finished the season 10-2.

Fight For Charity Scores A Knockout

Huntington’s Grant “The Bull” Havasy and Michael “Boom Bots” Zaharios raised money for charity as part of the Long Island Fight for Charity.

Huntington’s Grant “The Bull” Havasy and Michael “Boom Bots” Zaharios raised money for charity as part of the Long Island Fight for Charity.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Bright lights lit up the boxing ring as the crowd roared for the 15th annual Long Island Fight for Charity, but the main event wasn’t just in the middle of the ring, it was the many charities and people this fight would be helping.

The Fight for Charity has become a staple fundraising event on Long Island, garnering hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to support the Long Island Community Chest and other charities chosen by boxers.

This year the fight featured 24 local business people in 12 bouts as volunteer boxers. The Township of Huntington was represented by Grant “The Bull” Havasy, Jamie “The Trainer” O’Mara, and Michael “Boom Bots” Zaharios.

“When we step into the ring, it’s all about Huntington pride,” Havasy said.

O’Mara is a seasoned pro who fought in 2015 for Fight for Charity. But for Havasy and Zaharios, stepping into the boxing ring to fight was a new experience that brought both excitement and some nerves.

“Coming here today has been a surreal experience, seeing the amount of people in there,” Havasy said. “It still hasn’t totally hit me yet but when I glove up and get my gear on, then it’ll hit.”

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The night began with the National Anthem, which brought all the boxers to the ring to see the massive audience that awaited them. Havasy found the crowd motivated him to do better because he didn’t want to let down his supporters.

“It’s always good to have nerves,” Zaharios said.

The boxers were eager show off the hard work they put into six months of training.

“This is the most difficult sport, conditioning, mental and physical that I’ve ever done in my life,” Havasy said.

But the boxers admitted the benefits of fighting for chaity far outweighted the pain.

“I’m in the best shape of my life, I’m down 55 pounds and never been better… It’s given me more confidence in myself and I’ve made great friendships along the way” Zaharios said. “It’s been a positive adventure.”

The fight didn’t yield just physical benefits for the boxers, but a chance for them to fundraise for charity with a goal of $10,000.

“It’s not the normal way of helping out, it’s a fun and active way to help,” Zaharios said. “It’s something I’ve never done before but as long as it benefits others I’m happy to do it.”

The Long Island Community Chest directly benefits families on the Island who are in need of assistance with housing and other financial needs.

“It is such a special experience to see how the charities are affecting people,” Havasy said. “The money we give, actually impacts their lives and that was the drive to keep going harder.”

Seahawks Soar To Nassau Title

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By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

For the first time in 13 years the Cold Spring Harbor football team is headed to the Long Island Championship.

The highflying Seahawks defeated Seaford 27-7 last weekend in the Nassau title game after losing to the Vikings at the same stage last season.

Head Coach John Mendreski said his team used last year’s loss to Seaford as motivation going into last Friday’s game at Hofstra.

“We’ve had that in our minds the whole year, to get back to the game and beat the team that beat us last year,” Mendreski said. “It was one of our goals.”

The Seahawks defense dominated the Vikings for the first three quarters and allowed only seven points all game.

Senior defensive back Thomas Milana’s interception stopped Seaford’s opening drive and set the tone for the Seahawks defense.

On offense, the Seahawks running game overpowered the Vikings defense.

Senior running back Daniel Striano had his break out game of the season after previously suffering both a back and knee injury.

Striano was the feature back for the Seahawks. He scored three unanswered touchdowns on the ground to give the Seahawks a commanding lead. He rushed the ball 16 times for 134 yards and three scores.

Quarterback Ray Costa contributed 39 yards on seven rushing attempts, while Striano’s younger brother junior Richie Striano rushed for 24 yards.

The Seahawks took a 19-0 lead into the fourth quarter, and a 48-yard rushing touchdown by Jacob Bruno ended Seaford’s comeback attempt and secured the 27-7 victory.

The Seahawks are set to travel to Stony Brook University on Friday at 4:30 p.m. to take on the Wildcats of Shoreham-Wading River for the Long Island Division IV title.

Mendreski said he feels the match-up is a winnable one, and his players are exicted to be “the group who has got us back there.”

“We’re just trying to make sure everyone keeps their emotions under control, the excitement or nerves, whatever it may be. We have to treat it as you would any other game,” Mendreski said. “Adrenaline will be flowing but we’ll make sure they stay in control.”

Despite the emotion, Mendreski wants his team to enjoy the experience.

“We’ve told them this week just to enjoy the bus ride out there, enjoy the locker room and take a look around to take it all in,” he said. ““Win or lose it’s an honor to be there.”

Colts One Win Away From LI Title

The Colts celebrate victory with their coaches at the Suffolk County Class III championship game Nov. 17.  Photo by Phil Orlando

The Colts celebrate victory with their coaches at the Suffolk County Class III championship game Nov. 17. Photo by Phil Orlando

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Half Hollow Hills West football team will go for it all at the Long Island championship this weekend following a 21-10 win over Westhampton in the Suffolk County title game.

The team will bring an 11-1 record to the Long Island Class III Championship game against the Nassau champs from Plainedge High School on Nov. 24, 4:30 p.m. at Hofstra University. The Colts have had their eye on this game all season long, their coach said, but always kept their focus on the present.

“You never think about being there, you just focus on the process,” assistant coach, Chris Blumenstetter said. “You don’t climb a ladder by grabbing at the top, you go rung by rung, and that’s how you get to the top. You don’t look ahead and take it week by week.”

Getting ready for the big game, the team has implemented the same routine they have gone through every week: studying plays and preparing on and off the field.

“Our preparation doesn’t change based on the opponent because it’s about the process,” Blumenstetter said. “We’re confident in our preparation process, regardless who is on the other side.”

The coach credits the team’s success this season to the players buying into the culture and system head coach Kyle Madden and his staff have preached.

“You can’t function as a unit without a basis of love and trust with each other… We’re really seeing the benefits of a group that is getting exponentially better on a daily basis,” Blumenstetter said.

 

Freshman running back Dakim Griffin (#20) rushing in one of his team-leading 19 attempts against Westhampton.  Photo by Phil Orlando

Freshman running back Dakim Griffin (#20) rushing in one of his team-leading 19 attempts against Westhampton. Photo by Phil Orlando

The staff has been relentless in sticking with their coaching system, no matter the circumstances and it has paid off. Players put dollar signs on the top of their helmets in the second week of playoffs to remind them of the ultimate goal.

It’s a reminder that “eventually when all of this sinks in and the kids buy in, we will reap very big rewards,” Blumenstetter said.

The team is led by captains Jake Cetta, Michael Carubia, Keith Slaughter, Justin Brown and Joey Venezia, who were chosen to lead the team during the offseason by assistant coach, Rich Pryhocki. Even in the pre-season, it was clear the boys could lead the team to victory, said Blumstetter. Senior quarterback and safety Gerald Filardi has been one of the most consistent leaders for the Colts.

Senior linebacker Michael Smith has worked   harder to become stronger. This season, he has seen major reward for his commitment and moved into the role of defensive leader on the team with the number one defense in Suffolk County.

“They just want to keep playing together,” Blumenstetter said. “This is a special group who loves each other.”

The Colts claim the win as the clock runs out in their 21-10 victory over Westhampton in the Suffolk County Class III championship.  Photo by Phil Orlando

The Colts claim the win as the clock runs out in their 21-10 victory over Westhampton in the Suffolk County Class III championship. Photo by Phil Orlando

Many of the team members have played with each other since childhood, but those who are newer have still been welcomed into the team as family.

“When you spend more time with each other than you do with your own family, then it really just clicks,” Blumenstetter said. “Whether it’s the team breaking out into a dance in the middle of practice or them having team dinners together on Fridays.”

The county championship was Hills West’s fifth consecutive county title appearance, and a repeats of last year’s matchup against Westhampton.

“It’s a whole new year and new circumstances,” Blumenstetter said. “Last year has no bearing on this year and every week is a new challenge, regardless of what happened in the past.”

The Colts will play their final game together at the Long Island Class III Championship on Nov. 24.

“I just hope the boys can reflect on four great months that they’ve had with friends they’ll have forever, coaches that’ll love them forever and can look back on their career and not regret a single thing,” Blumenstetter said.

Whitman Boys Are County Champs

Roberto Alfaro scored the game winning goal to earn Whitman boys soccer team the Suffolk County Championship in its 2-1 win over Newfield.

Roberto Alfaro scored the game winning goal to earn Whitman boys soccer team the Suffolk County Championship in its 2-1 win over Newfield.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Whitman boys soccer team has a new trophy for the case. The Wildcats’ 13-3 season ended with a Suffolk County championship.

The team ended the regular season second in their league to secure a playoff berth. Head coach John DiGiacomo said at the start of the season he knew he had a talented team, but emphasized the hard work the boys put in to get to the top.

“We knew we were a playoff team,” DiGiacomo said. “It was just a matter of where we fell in to defeating those teams.”

The team battled through three rounds of playoffs to make it to the title game. They won against Bellport, 3-0, then went to Brentwood, a well coached team. In the next round, Commack, a tough team with fast, physical players gave the Wildcats a run. The win over the Cougars earned Whitman a trip the Suffolk County Championship against Newfield. It was an intense, 2-1 victory, and DiGiacomo commends his players’ passion and athleticism.

“They were just a really well-rounded, talented group of young men… We have a great core of really good players, it definitely helped build the bond,” DiGiacomo said.

During the Championships, Roberto Alfaro scored the Wildcats their first goal with an assist from Jason Quintanilla. The game-winning goal came from Richard Morel who “blasted” a free kick. Morel, who is a sophomore forward, scored 14 goals during the season, a high number for his class. Goalie, Sean Rankel made 10 saves to ensure their victory, many during the final minutes of play.

“We relied upon hard work all season and we definitely had some talent,” DiGiacomo said. “They were a tight knit group, I had some great leaders, my four captains. Those guys kinda brought everybody together.”

His captains, midfielder Wilmer Dominguez Funez, forward and midfielder Nikolas Cerrito, defender Anthony Paredes Trujillo, and forward and midfielder Jordan Perez Hernandez are all considered top players.

DiGiacomo has coached soccer at Whitman for 18 years, with one year as the assistant coach before moving up to head coach. Along with that he coaches varsity bowling and teaches physical education at Stimson Middle School. This year, two of his 2015 State champion players came back as assistant coaches.

“We moved some players to different positions that we thought would help us in the beginning of the season,” DiGiacomo said. “We changed some things around and played a little bit of a different formation than we normally do, so there was a little bit of a learning curve in the beginning.”

Their triumph at the Suffolk County Championship advanced them to the Long Island Championship where they played Port Washington. Unfortunately, this game was “not meant to be” and the team lost 2-1.

“The boys still have a lot to be proud of,” DiGiacomo said. “Not many teams can say they were Suffolk County champions… State championship or not, we are extremely proud of what they have accomplished. It will go into Whitman history.”

Due to an extreme season schedule, eight of their starting players were battling injuries ranging from shin splints to a foot fracture. DiGiacomo believes that if the injuries had not persisted, the team would have had a better chance of winning.

“The season was an extremely difficult season, it’s 16 games,” DiGiacomo said. “At one point, we played seven games in 14 days, and anybody that knows the game of soccer knows you shouldn’t play seven games in that many days.”

Looking ahead, DiGiacomo will see 17 of his 27 players graduate, leaving only 10 returning players. But he feels good about the players moving up to the varsity. The junior varsity squad ended with a 15-1 record.

Now, it’s all about making sure the new players are prepared for varsity games, that have bigger and more experienced players competing. DiGiacomo considers the offseason to be “absolutely crucial” and would like to have his team play together during this time. He also encourages his players to hit the weight room, which will make them stronger and bigger.

“If the guys work hard, fight for each, work on improving every day, and listen to our coaching methodology then hopefully we can put them in a best place to win in playoffs,” DiGiacomo said.

Local Boxers Throwing Punches For Charity

Long Island Fight for Charity volunteer boxers with the event’s founders at an event to announce the match-ups.   Photo/Corbett Public Relations

Long Island Fight for Charity volunteer boxers with the event’s founders at an event to announce the match-ups. Photo/Corbett Public Relations

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Put your mitts up and get ready to rumble. The Long Island Fight for Charity, a fundraising event that sends amateur boxers into the ring to duke it out for a good cause, is set for Nov. 19.
The 15th annual Fight for Charity is looking at another successful year of fundraising for the Long Island Community Chest, a charity that benefits local individuals who are struggling to get by. The event raises funds through ticket sales, sponsorship, advertising and fundraising done by the volunteer boxers.

“There are many people living on Long Island who need help… We have to consider ourselves fortunate for what we have and it’s important for us to give back to our community and help those who are less fortunate,”  Fight for Charity co-founder Jamie Austin said.

Austin, Jeff Cohen, and Matt Silver dreamed up the event when former boxer Cohen wanted to get back in the ring. Austin joked that he and Silver could be a good undercard match. This sparked the idea to bring business people together for a fun but serious match to raised money for charity. The boxers participating are dedicated to helping others, even if it means getting physical.

“We get new business people every year who are interested in supporting their local community,” Austin said. “They’re willing to learn how to box and we train them with professional trainers. They’re willing to go into the ring and take punches to raise money for charity.”

The 24 boxers will fighting a total of 12 matches, with each pair clashing for three short rounds. More that 1,000 spectators are expected to watch the bouts, which will see several local boxers in the ring. Representing Huntington township are Grant “The Bull” Havasy, Jamie “The Trainer” O’Mara and Mikey “Boom Bots” Zaharios.

Boxer Grant “The Bull” Havasy of Lloyd Harbor is managing partner of Blue and Gold Homes & Builder Funding.

Boxer Grant “The Bull” Havasy of Lloyd Harbor is managing partner of Blue and Gold Homes & Builder Funding.

“After learning its mission, I volunteered to be a charity boxer in a memorial for Vincent Alterbrando, Walt Whitman High School teacher and wrestling coach,” Zaharios of South Huntington said. “It’s a great opportunity to give back to the community, plus I will get to better myself both mentally and physically.”

The Fight for Charity also doubles a networking event. Attendees can mingle throughout the night of the event, with “boxing as its keynote speaker.” They can also enjoy complimentary eats from the food court featuring 25 Long Island restaurants.

“We have a play-by-play announcer, a commentator, some surprise celebrity guests coming this year and music,” Austin said. “This is a full-fledged boxing extravaganza.”

In its first year, the Fight for Charity raised $36,000. This year the goal is $250,000. Organizers are asking each boxer to raise $10,000. Those who go beyond the goal may elect to have half the difference go to a charity of their choice.

 

Boxer Mikey “Boom Bots” Zaharios of South Huntington is a substitute teacher and coach in South Huntington schools.

Boxer Mikey “Boom Bots” Zaharios of South Huntington is a substitute teacher and coach in South Huntington schools.

 “Fight for Charity has contributed so much to struggling people living on Long Island; I can’t think of a more appropriate cause to be connected with,” O’Mara of Huntington said. “My experience in 2017 was so great. Now I’m getting ready to step in the ring again to throw a few punches in support of the Long Island charities that day in and day out serve those who have the most needs.”

The Long Island Community Chest was founded by Austin and Silver to help people in need. The charity gets referrals from non-profits.

“We wanted to do something where we actually saw where the money went,” Austin said. “The Community Chest helps individuals, we don’t give them money but we help pay their bills.”

The volunteer boxers have been hitting the gym multiple times a week for the past six months to prepare for their matches, with many losing 5-10 pounds and feeling healthier.

“I saw an opportunity to give back to children in need and have something that requires me to train, forcing me to get back into shape,” Havasy of Lloyd Harbor said. “It’s not easy to maintain a workout regimen with a busy work schedule and three kids at home.”

The boxers will be throwing real punches at the Fight for Charity. Austin, who boxed three different years in past events, said the event requires a level of commitment beyond the normal fundraiser.

“It is so out of the norm for so many business people that that’s why I think it’s such an attraction,” Austin said. “If we did bowling… well, anyone can bowl. But not just anybody is willing to train for the six months, get into the ring and get hit.”

The fight will be held Monday, Nov. 19, 6-9 p.m. at the Hilton Long Island in Melville. Tickets can be purchased at lifightforcharity.org.

Boxer Jamie “The Trainer” O’Mara, left, is a crossing guard and personal trainer from Huntington.

Boxer Jamie “The Trainer” O’Mara, left, is a crossing guard and personal trainer from Huntington.

Harborfields Field Hockey Finishes Strong

The Harborfields Field Hockey team after their game with USA Women’s National soccer team player Allie Long.

The Harborfields Field Hockey team after their game with USA Women’s National soccer team player Allie Long.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

The Harborfields varsity field hockey team has just wrapped up their season and are looking back on it with pride while looking forward to next year’s season with excitement.

The girl’s season finished on Tuesday, Oct. 30 when they played against Miller Place at the Suffolk County Championship game and lost in double overtime. Coach Lauren Desiderio is proud of how her girls played at the game and during the season, closing with a record of 11-5.

“We’re really proud of how well the girls played this year, they really came together as a team and played as a unit throughout the season,” Desiderio said. “I think that really is what led to our success.”

In a game like field hockey, where it takes a team effort to win, it was crucial the girls work together. Desiderio and her staff emphasized team bonding this year, the girls even have a pool party at her house over the summer.

“Stressing to them that being friends on and off the field will help them, especially in tough games like today,” Desiderio said. “Being there for their teammate is the best way to be a teammate, to help their teammate out, to think about what they can do to put their teammate in the best position to do well on the field and their teammates will do the same for them.”

In her quest for unity, Desiderio found having balance among her players was important and didn’t put any player above another. She did highlight the leadership demonstrated by her captains as a contributor for their success. Senior and defense left back, Samantha Huntington, was a returning All-State player this season that led the team with senior forward midfielder, Jenna Bergin and junior center-mid, Caroline Dlugisnky.

The girls were able to lead by example, showing their dedication to the game while putting in hard work during practice. The team typically practices on grass, but played about half their games on turf fields. This required the players to put in extra work the day before turf games, by spending time practicing their plays on a turf field. It may not seem like a big difference, but according to Desiderio, the field changes the speed and what they can do during a game.

“The girls have really learned to adapt to the surface, while sticking to the game plan and our style of play and persevere each game,” Desiderio said.

Desiderio feels her girls know how to handle their wins and loses with class.

“One of the biggest compliments my team got this year is that we are really nice team, we were respectful and had good sportsmanship,” Desiderio said. “As a coach that really meant a lot to hear that from officials and coaches throughout the league.”

After coaching the team as an assistant for 2-3 years, Desiderio stepped up as the head coach in 2010. Before that, she coached three seasons at Fairfield University, where she played Division 1 field hockey. Now, Desiderio teaches social studies at Huntington High School but finds her allegiance to two schools has not been an issue.

“It’s kinda nice to coach in a different district and meet new kids,” Desiderio said. “I have a great relationship with them and even the girls on the field hockey team in Huntington, so that’s nice too.”

This year the team will be graduating a large amount of seniors, like goalie Cate Driver, who had a “fantastic” senior season. But Desiderio is not worried for next year, with great returning players coming back and many fierce competitors moving up from the junior varsity team.

Looking to the future, Desiderio wants her returning players to participate in winter field hockey club teams, to keep the girls playing together. Next year, she hopes the team will make it to the County Championship again and win this time. .

 “We stressed to them at the end of the game, that they really should be proud of how far they’ve come and what they’ve accomplished this season. They’ve done something that no other program that I’ve coached has accomplished,” Desiderio said. “They have to remember what it felt like today and take that as a motivating factor for next season.”

Cougars Fierce In Homecoming Win

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

The Commack Cougars football team notched an impressive win on Oct. 20 when they defeated the Bay Shore Marauders 28-6 at homecoming.

Both defenses dominated the first quarter in which neither team was able to put any points on the board. Senior Jordan Scott led the Cougars defense with 14 tackles and 4 sacks. Senior William Pizzolo also managed four sacks, while Joe Slackman and Saul Leon added nine and seven tackles, respectively.

The Cougars ability to put pressure on the Marauders backfield helped keep Bay Shore from scoring until the third quarter.

After a slow start, the Cougars offense found their rhythm in the second quarter with the help of a 17-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Adian McCarty to wide receiver Blake Behlen.

The Cougars running game also came to life in the second quarter with a seven-yard touchdown run from junior running back Chris Ioannou, one of his 15 carries for 100 yards in the game. Pizzolo also scored a two-yard rushing touchdown. The senior rushed for 85 yards in the game.

Bay Shore tried to mount a comeback with a touchdown in the third quarter, but a 15-yard touchdown pass from McCarty to Scott quickly stopped the Marauders momentum. McCarty finished with 133 passing yards.

Sal Davi added a field goal in the fourth quarter to cap off the comprehensive victory for the Cougars.

Commack currently sits in fifth place in Suffolk Division 1, and will look to end the regular season on a high note Nov 2 when they travel to Longwood to take on the Lions.

Huntington Devils Smithtown For The Win

Huntington toppled visiting Smithtown East last Saturday on Homecoming Day, 32-20. The Blue Devils came from behind before a crowd of about 2,000.

Special events were held throughout the district in the run-up to Saturday’s festivities. Thursday night’s high school dance proved to be a fun time for everyone, and Friday’s pep rally in Louis D. Giani Gymnasium was a high octane affair as varsity teams were introduced to the student body and faculty to deafening applause. Athletes performed short skits and the Blue Devil marching band and color guard put on an awesome display. There were also performances by the Highsteppers and Ready Step dance teams.

Saturday’s late morning parade drew students and parents from all eight schools in the district marching behind banners. The Blue Devil marching band performed along the parade route, drawing merchants and customers out of stores and onto sidewalks.

Named as this year’s Homecoming Day King and Queen were Danny Arias and Ashlyn Case. The pair were formally crowned by Principal Brenden Cusack and Superintendent James W. Polansky.

“Today was a great day for the Huntington community,” Cusack said. “The weather turned the corner just in time for the parade and every aspect of Homecoming was picture perfect. The football team had a decisive win, the crowd was awesome and the halftime festivities were outstanding. I’m so grateful for all of the effort that went into this weekend to make it a fantastic time for everyone.”

Alumni spanning more than 70 years attended Saturday’s football game against Smithtown East. The group of graduates included more than a few from recent classes.

Huntington quarterback John Paul Paci had his biggest day of the season completing 10-of-15 passes for 275 yards, including a 52-yard touchdown pass to Chad Rowe. The Blue Devils also scored on an eight-yard run by Eric Yards, a nine yard dash by Nasir Youngblood and a 42-yard gallop by Sebastian Abreu. Huntington also found the end zone on a 41-yard interception return by Jack Stewart.

The Blue Devils scored first in the game, but missed the point-after. Smithtown East responded by scoring on a 23-yard run and successfully converting the extra point to take a 7-6 lead. It was all Huntington the rest of the way, although the Bulls did manage to stage a late-game rally that kept the big crowd on the edge of its seats.

Jordan McCoy had four receptions for 125 yards for the Blue Devils and Tazadon Smith and Jon Koumas notched quarterback sacks. While Huntington made some mistakes, including racking up a few costly penalties, overall the team played well.

“It was just a glorious day in Huntington,” Polansky said. “Any threats of inclement weather disappeared in the early morning hours, which contributed to strong representation from all district schools in the Homecoming parade. This was followed by an exciting game on the gridiron, ending in a 32-20 Blue Devil victory over the Smithtown East Bulls. Not to be overlooked were the outstanding halftime performances by the Blue Devil Marching Band and Highsteppers, as well as the crowning of Homecoming king Danny Arias and queen Ashlyn Case. Thank you to all in Huntington for contributing to a terrific celebration!”