12/22/10 10:51am

Jeff Ellis, the coach of the Southold First Settlers boys basketball team, knows it will take some time for his young squad to mesh. There will be times during a game when he will have to make some adjustments on the fly. But what Ellis probably didn’t expect was that those on-the-fly adjustments would come two minutes into Friday night’s Suffolk County League VIII opener at home against the Pierson Whalers.

Pierson (0-3, 0-1), sparked by the hot shooting of Skyler Loesch, opened the game with a 9-0 run. Ellis quickly called a timeout. He switched his defense from a 2-3 zone to man-to-man. Southold held Pierson to only 25 points the rest of the way and won, 43-34. Loesch finished the game with 10 points.

“We scouted them well,” Ellis said. “We knew they could catch and shoot well. But when they made their first four shots, we made the proper adjustments.”

The First Settlers (2-1, 1-0) battled back as Will Fujita scored eight of his nine points in the first quarter. Southold quickly evened the score at 9-9. After being held scoreless in the first quarter, Winston Wilcenski, the First Settlers’ sharp-shooting wingman, tallied all of 12 of Southold’s points in the second quarter, giving his team a 21-16 lead at the intermission.

Ellis praised both Fujita and Wilcenski.

“Will is the kind of role player who can play wherever we need him to,” Ellis said. “He had a couple of good looks at the basket and he got us going.”

Ellis called Wilcenski “a basketball kid.” The coach said: “Winston is a shooter. He is not afraid to shoot the ball.”

The First Settlers settled down after the opening two minutes and took control of the game. Wilcenski added 11 points in the second half to finish with 23 points. He also had six rebounds and four assists. Kyle Clausen netted six of his seven points in the second half. Fujita hauled down five rebounds.

“We settled into a nice rhythm and we went back to running our sets and we didn’t turn the ball over,” said Ellis.

Ellis said his team will get better each time out.

“We’ve got one player right now [Wilcenski] that knows how to score,” Ellis said. “But teams will start to key on him. We need to establish someone who can take care of stepping up and providing us with some offense. It might be a different player every game. That’s alright. We’re going to play good defense. We’ll try some zone to slow the game down. We’re not going to win a shootout. So far, the kids are working hard and we will keep getting better and better.”

12/21/10 2:13pm

Conditioning is such an important factor in any sport, but none more so than in wrestling.

The Mattituck/Greenport Tuckers wrestling coach, Cory Dolson, was proud of the fact that six of his wrestlers reached the finals of the 11-team Berlin (Conn.) Invitational on Saturday, with three of the Tuckers emerging victorious. Conditioning had something to do with it.

In the 140-pound final, the Tuckers’ Jeff Strider won a close 8-5 decision over Berlin’s Shawn Sullivan. Tomasz Filipkowski edged Avon’s Ryan Pearson, 3-2, for the 160-pound title, and Brandon Lake took the 189-weight class with a 4-3 victory over Avon’s David St. Onge in their final.

“Our guys were in good shape,” Dolson said. “That helped them win.”

The three Tuckers who finished as runners-up all lost on pins. At 119 pounds, New Milford’s Alex Thalassinos pinned Brian Pelan in 1 minute 10 seconds; New Milford’s Cameron Bradshaw pinned Chris Baglivi at 1:35 of their 171-pound match; and Berlin’s entry at 215 pounds, Mason Powers, pinned Jorge Perez at 5:23.

Dolson was especially pleased with Baglivi’s performance.

“Chris is a sophomore and this was his first tournament,” Dolson said. “For him to reach the finals is a testament to his work ethic.”

The Tuckers’ Wilson Quizphi placed third at 103 pounds, and Ryan Bergen came in fourth at 112.

New Milford won the overall team title with 120 points, followed by Hand with 87 points and Mattituck/Greenport was third with 83.

On Dec. 15, Mattituck/Greenport rolled past the Amityville Warriors, 53-27. Strider won on a technical fall at 145 pounds while David Dillon won a close decision at 130. The Tuckers won every weight class from 145 to 215.

Dolson summed it up by saying, “We took care of business.”

The Tuckers are 5-1 in dual meets.

“We are doing well,” Dolson said. “This is the fastest start we’ve had in a while. The kids are wrestling hard. We are minimizing our mistakes. As we go into the league schedule, the competition is going to get more difficult. We have to step it up and keep getting better and better.”

12/21/10 1:49pm

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Cody Huntley of Mattituck, left, fouled Wyandanch's D'dante Freeman on this play.

It was the moment when the Mattituck Tuckers boys basketball team served noticed that it is for real.

Sure, the Tuckers have racked up four straight impressive non-league wins, including stunning the Riverhead Blue Waves on their home court. But opening the Suffolk County League VII season on Friday night in Mattituck against the Wyandanch Warriors, the defending Suffolk County Class B champions, was yet another test for the resurgent Tuckers.

Mattituck, sparked by the scoring of twins Tom Ascher (29 points) and Steve Ascher (18 points), built up a 15-point lead late in the third quarter. But the Tuckers were a little sloppy with the ball in the closing seconds of the quarter and the Warriors pulled to within 13 points.

“We had been in control and getting good sets and good looks at the basket,” Mattituck Coach Paul Ellwood said. “In the past, we would’ve been lucky to hold on for the win.”

But there is something different about this season’s Mattituck team.

Mike Mangiamele, who had been a defensive catalyst all game long for the Tuckers, hit a driving shot to open the fourth quarter. Tom Ascher followed with a pair of three-pointers. Steve Ascher sank a pair of layups. The Tuckers’ lead ballooned to 24 points midway through the final quarter. Mattituck went on to win, 83-62.

“Wyandanch is a real fast team,” Ellwood said. “It is hard to match up with them. But our scoring was balanced and spread out. We switched our defense to slow them down, and once we did, we settled down. Our defense opened up the floodgates for us.”

Ellwood said Mangiamele, a defensive stopper, “forced turnovers and changed the game.”

The Tuckers had a 24-20 lead after one quarter and, with Mattituck point guard Connor Davis continually breaking the Warriors’ press in the second quarter, Mattituck built a 40-31 lead at the half.

Wyandanch, led by the hot shooting of D’dante Freeman (25 points), made a small run at trimming Mattituck’s lead late in the third quarter. But the Tuckers’ balance on offense was just too much for the Warriors, who took their fifth loss in six games, to stop. In addition to the one-two punch of the Ascher brothers, Davis (10 points, eight assists), Yianni Rauseo (10 points, 11 rebounds), Mangiamele (seven points) and Cody Huntley (six points) all made solid contributions on both ends of the court.

“Tom [Ascher] is a good all-around player who finds a way to score,” Ellwood said. “Steve is a good long-range shooter and he is now starting to go to the basket. He finishes well.”

Ellwood called Davis the best point guard in the league. “Connor can drive and kick out, and he can finish,” the coach said. “He has good judgment. Connor makes our offense go.”

Mangiamele, with his defensive tenacity, is a valuable weapon to bring in off the bench. “It is hard to take him off the floor,” said Ellwood.

Mattituck can press and trap on defense because Huntley, the goalie on the school’s boys soccer team, plays a similar role on defense, altering shots, getting steals and cleaning up the boards.

Ellwood called Rauseo “the fastest, most athletic player on the team. Yianni is in the middle of our press and he is our leading rebounder. He has good anticipation and has a knack for finishing around the rim.”

While Mattituck is unbeaten through five games, Ellwood said, “We haven’t even utilized all of our weapons yet.”

Ellwood said he could feel the tide beginning to turn for his team midway through last season.

“We started last season 1 and 6, then finished strong, splitting our final six games,” he said. “We spotted these kids a long time ago. Some of these kids have been with us for four years. They worked very hard in the spring and summer leagues. They want to be a playoff team. We’re off to a good start.”

12/15/10 11:17am

When the Mattituck Tuckers girls basketball coach, Steve Van Dood, looked at the rugged non-league portion of the schedule his team faced this past week, he realized that even though it was going to be difficult to come away with some victories, it was going to prepare his team for the coming league schedule.

While the Tuckers (2-4) lost three lopsided games in a row, Van Dood’s team finished this brutal stretch in the schedule by edging the Pierson/Bridgehampton Whalers, 29-27, on Tuesday night in Sag Harbor.

Mattituck, sparked by the one-two punch of Katherine Wilcenski (11 points and 10 rebounds) and Lauren Guja (eight points, 11 rebounds and six assists), jumped out to an 11-4 lead and was on top, 19-8, at the half. Pierson/Bridgehampton (0-6), led by Sarah Barrett’s 17 points, staged a furious fourth-quarter comeback, but the Tuckers held on for the win.

Van Dood said Wilcenski, who returned from a serious knee injury last season, “is getting better and better. She is getting more confident every game.”

Guja, a sophomore, is increasingly playing a bigger role for the Tuckers.

“Lauren has really stepped up,” Van Dood said. “She is breaking the press. She is rebounding. And as a sophomore, she is only going to get better.”

The Tuckers opened the busy stretch last Thursday with a 57-32 non league loss at Kings Park. Meghan Eckel paced the Kingsmen (2-0) with 12 points, 11 steals and 10 assists. Kings Park took a 12-2 lead and was on top, 30-14, by halftime. Guja finished with 13 points for Mattituck.

In the opening round of the Under Armour Tournament at St. John the Baptist on Saturday, the Comsewogue Warriors (3-0) used an 11-0 first-quarter run, then outscored Mattituck by 17-2 in the third quarter and went on to win easily, 43-25. Samantha Kane had 11 points and seven rebounds while teammate Michelle Rubino had nine points, 12 steals and six assists to power Comsewogue to the win. Stefanie Loverde netted six points for Mattituck, while Guja had five.

Mattituck then faced St. John the Baptist (3-0) on Sunday and the host school went on a 17-2 first-quarter run en route to a 40-15 win. Kristen McMahon’s 11 points and Allysia Rohlehr’s 10 points sparked St. John the Baptist to the lopsided win. Guja had eight points and Wilcenski had four.

Despite the three one-sided losses, Van Dood was looking at the bigger picture.

“We had a good enough record last year that we could schedule these tough non-league games,” he said. “These games will help get us ready for Wyandanch and Center Moriches. We will be better prepared for our league schedule.”

12/14/10 3:50pm

Dennis Reilly didn’t want the half to end.

Reilly, the coach of the Southold First Settlers girls basketball team, was pleased by the way his team had built a 22-17 halftime lead on Friday against the host Westhampton Beach Hurricanes. But in the third quarter, sharpshooter Kristen Polan scored eight of her game-high 23 points in a 17-6 Westhampton Beach run. The Hurricanes went on to win the non-league game, 44-34.

“We played well,” Reilly said, “but Westhampton’s size and experience took over.”

After Southold was hammered by the Hauppauge Eagles, 58-21, in its season-opener on Dec. 7, Reilly said his team came out vastly improved against the Hurricanes.

The First Settlers’ Sarah Smith came out red hot in the first quarter as she helped Southold build a 12-6 lead. Southold led by five points at the half.

“Sarah sets the tone for us,” Reilly said. “That’s what I expect from her. She gets us going.”

Reilly implored his team at halftime to keep up the intensity.

“We knew Westhampton was going to make some adjustments,” he said. “They have a great coach and we had to be ready. But we were in such a groove, we wanted to stay on the court and keep playing.”

Westhampton Beach (3-2) opened the third quarter with a full-court press and for several minutes it seemed to rattle Southold. Polan used her height and experience to score eight points and ignite Westhampton Beach’s surge.

Reilly said, “We just couldn’t stop her.”

Smith, who finished with 22 points, including four three-pointers, led a late Southold comeback, trimming Westhampton Beach’s lead to seven. But time ran out on the First Settlers (0-2).

“This was a great learning experience for us,” Reilly said. “I loved the way the girls competed. It was a tight game. The girls got to feel the pressure of a close game. We were able to fight back. It was a good experience for us.”

12/08/10 10:35am

ROBERT O'ROURK FILE PHOTO | Anthony Infantolino, right, will wrestle at 112 pounds for Riverhead.

Any team that takes the Riverhead Blue Waves for granted this season may be in for a rude awakening.

While the Blue Waves were hit hard by graduation, the defending Suffolk County League IV champions are still loaded with talent.

The Blue Waves (14-3 last season) are led by five seniors Christian Krumbiegel (125 pounds), Patrick Thomas (125), Gabe Rice (145), Joe Menna (160), and Mario Carrera (171). Also helping out are juniors Anthony Infantolino (112) and Shawn Yarborough (285) as well as sophomores Kevin Thomas (96), Keith Miles (103) and Evan Primm (117).

“We lost a lot of good kids, but we have a nice nucleus to work with,” Riverhead Coach Wade “Rocky” Davey said. “We should be competitive.”

Davey said Krumbiegel has “an unbelievable amount of stamina and power. He is that strong, that explosive. He’s tough to beat.”

Patrick Thomas, Davey said, “is the ultimate definition of a wrestler. He eats and sleeps wrestling and he is reaping the rewards for that hard work and dedication.”

Davey said Rice has “without a doubt the best potential of the bunch. He is very polished and has a killer instinct.”

With talented teams like the North Babylon Bulldogs and West Babylon Eagles on the schedule, Davey said his team has to avoid “burning out.”

“We have to keep our focus and drive alive the whole season,” he said. “Realistically, we add something new every day, every week. It takes a while, but our goal is to build for the league tournament.”

The Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats (1-21) look to be improved this season.

The Wildcats will be led by sophomore T. J. Fabian, who was a league champion at 96 pounds and placed third in the county last season.

Seniors T. J. Kluber (119), Kyle Reinhardt (160) and Mike Sanders (189) are being counted on along with juniors John Keck (145), Zak Mullen (135), Tom Valentine (140), Joe Bennett (152), Joe Longo (171) and Bryan Antonoff (215). Others expected to figure prominently in the team’s plans are sophomores Ryan Stern (130), Sean Logan (125), Kevin Warner (103), Pete Anderson (152), Dylan Busch (215) and Jason Ambrosini (285), freshmen David Keith (103), Dom Pirraglia (160), Leo McDonnell (140) and Max Goldfarb (171), and eighth-grader James Szymanski (96).

Wildcats Coach Joe Condon said his young team gained vital experience last season.

“These kids trained with the system and worked hard,” he said. “We are young, but we have a lot of experience.”

With strong opponents like the Longwood Lions, Brentwood Indians, Sachem Flaming Arrows and William Floyd Colonials, Condon is looking for more depth on his team.

“We want to keep improving and have more wins,” he said. “We want to go after league titles, county titles and state titles. But to do that, we must stay healthy and the kids have to be willing to do what it takes to be successful. It takes sacrifice and dedication. That competitive spirit has to stay where it is.”

12/07/10 3:04pm

ROBERT O'ROURK FILE PHOTO | Mynor Javier will wrestle at 103 pounds for Mattituck/Greenport this season.

There is an old axiom in sports that says teams play like they practice. The Mattituck/Greenport Tuckers wrestling coach, Cory Dolson, hopes that rings true for his team this season.

“Our kids are battling hard in practice,” Dolson said. “We have no superstars this season, but we’ve got a group of gritty kids [who] scrap and claw.”

The Tuckers (8-12 last season) will be led by seniors Jeff Strider (140 pounds) and Brandon Lake (171), junior Mynor Javier (103), sophomore Tomasz Filipkowski (152) and freshman Brian Pelan (112).

Dolson called Filipkowski a “super athlete.” He said: “Tomasz is the best athlete on the team. He is a natural athlete. It is a big advantage for him and he is only going to get better and better.”

Pelan, who was called up to the varsity team last season as an eighth-grader and acquitted himself well, keeps working hard to get even better.

“Brian works hard all year long,” Dolson said. “He wrestles in the spring and the fall trying to get better. This is another kid that is only going to get better and better.”

Dolson also expects Strider to do good things this season.

The Tuckers will face some stiff competition in the defending Suffolk County Division II champion Bayport-Blue Point Phantoms along with a solid Center Moriches Red Devils team.

The Tuckers will open the season on Saturday at the Bay Shore Dual Meet. Dolson called it a good early-season measuring stick.

To be successful this season, Dolson said, “The kids have to buy into what we are telling them.”

“We can win more matches this season,” he said. But we have to be match ready and we have to fill a few holes. We need some of the kids to step up. We need to embrace the team concept more than ever this season for us to improve.”

12/01/10 12:12am

ROBERT O'ROURK FILE PHOTO | Mattituck/Greenport sophomore Tomasz Filipkowski was a runner-up in the Suffolk County Division II Tournament.

As Cory Dolson, the Mattituck/Greenport Tuckers wrestling coach, talked about his returning wrestlers, one could hear the excitement building in his voice. Last season the Tuckers’ young team acquitted itself quite well in the Suffolk County Division II Tournament.

Mynor Javier, a junior, came in second place at 103 pounds. Sophomore Tomasz Filipkowski (152) and senior Brandon Lake (171) were also runners-up in their weight classes while freshman Brian Pelan (112) placed fourth. Dolson expects all of them to continue to get better.

But Dolson said that perhaps the hungriest wrestler on the team is senior Jeff Strider (140).

“This will only fuel Jeff’s fire,” said Dolson, whose team went 8-12 last season. “We’re looking for him to do some real damage this year.”

Dolson said the returning wrestlers are a group he can count on.

The strength of the team will come in the middle of the lineup.

“From 125 pounds on up, we have a lot of experience,” said Dolson.

With the new mandatory weight classes of 96 and 285 being added, Dolson said the challenge will be finding quality wrestlers for each weight class.

Dolson said defending Suffolk Division II champion Bayport-Blue Point Phantoms will be tough to beat, along with a good Center Moriches Red Devils team.

The Tuckers will open the season on Dec. 11 in the Bay Shore Dual Meet.

“Realistically, we can win more matches this season and we are going to do our best to win the Division II title,” Dolson said. “If we can fill a few holes we will be alright. We need guys to step up. Our core group has real difference-makers. If we can put the bodies in the right spots, we will be ready to go to battle.”

11/30/10 11:47pm

Teamwork. It is the one concept that Sal Campo, the first-year Southold First Settlers bowling coach, keeps coming back to.

“We really have a unified team,” said Campo, who takes the team over from the retired Ray Gramazio. “We are well-balanced and the kids work together. They help each other. They root each other on. This is a great group of kids.”

Last season the First Settlers had 197 points and placed fifth in Suffolk County League V. Graduation hit Southold hard. Still, Campo has a corps of returning veterans to count on like seniors Patrick Sinclair, Chris Manfredi and Chris Kirincic as well as juniors Brayan Palencia, Patrick Smith and Zach DePaulis, and sophomore Ben Glew.

Smith had a 175 average, followed by Sinclair (174) and Palencia and Manfredi both at 166.

Newcomers Kieran Brodarick, a junior, and sophomore Kyle Sparacino will also see action.

The Mount Sinai Mustangs, East Hampton/Bridgehampton/Pierson Bonackers and Southampton Mariners will all be tough to beat. But Campo said, “We can move up fast.”

“We have the potential to be the league champion,” he said. “Our new kids still need to develop their form a bit. They have come along fast, but we still need a little more consistency.”

Campo said keeping a “serious focus” is essential for the First Settlers to be successful this season.

“It is still early, but things are falling into place,” he said. “If all goes well … if we can continue the momentum we have … if we can continue our unified approach … that is the key to make good things happen. If we can keep doing those things, it gives us a big advantage.”

11/23/10 10:04pm

The Southold First Settlers reached the Suffolk County Class C girls basketball final last season, and their coach, Dennis Reilly, firmly believes his team can return to the title game.

“I expect us to be there again,” Reilly said. “We can be that good.”

The First Settlers lost three starters from last year’s 11-10 team to graduation. But Reilly said that the turnout of 23 players for this season’s varsity and junior varsity teams was “outstanding.”

Reilly will count on a trio of co-captains in senior guard Sarah Smith, junior forward Lauren Ficurilli and sophomore forward Melissa Rogers to lead the way.

Smith is Southold’s most experienced scorer. Reilly said, “I expect Sarah to produce on offense.”

While Ficurilli and Rogers are solid defensive players and good rebounders, Reilly said, “I think they will also get us some more points this season.”

Although the First Settlers have been working on their conditioning, Reilly is also emphasizing scoring.

“We are not a tall team, so shooting is important,” he said. “We are doing shooting drills and working on fastbreak layups.”

Over the past few days, Southold has been working on its defense as well.

“The key to a good offense is getting some stops defensively,” Reilly said. “We’re working on defensive aspects and philosophies. We’re working on getting the rebound and transitioning to offense.”

The First Settlers will open their non-league schedule on Dec. 7 at Hauppauge. Reilly said that experienced teams like the Bishop McGann-Mercy Monarchs and The Stony Brook School Bears will be a test for Southold.

“We’re young and there are a lot of things we need to work on, but the potential is there,” Reilly said. “A lot of these kids have played together since their CYO days. They’ve always been successful. But they still have a lot to work on to be competitive on the varsity level.”

“Once we come together, it will really gear us up for the league season,” Reilly continued. “It will all come down to desire and how much do we want it? It will all come down to how much we put into it.”