Third Time’s Just As Thrilling


Carle Place three-peats as Long Island champs

Tired of winning? Not a chance.

“We’re not done yet,” Carle Place girls basketball coach Conor Reardon reminded his happy players minutes after the final buzzer.

Competing in the cozy confines of the Newfield High School gym in Selden, the Frogs disposed of Port Jefferson 70-42 in the Long Island Class B championship game on March 9.

It was the third straight Long Island title for Carle Place (19-3), which had crushed Mattituck the previous two years. Port (15-9) had beaten Mattituck 42-28 in the Suffolk B title game on Feb. 21.

Once again, the Leary sister paced the Frogs. Sophomore Amanda netted 29, including five 3-pointers that seemed to come at times when the host Royals threatened a momentum-changing run. Junior Erin, the team’s leading scorer, poured in 14 despite missing stretches with foul trouble. Caitlin, an eighth-grader, contributed 10.

Asked if Port was a concern, Reardon replied, “They have five girls who can score. They shoot the ball extremely well. They’re well-coached. They defend. And they’ve been very successful in their conference. Every time that you play a team that won that many games, you’re concerned.”

The Royals kept things close for a quarter. Playing virtually in their backyard, they were cheered on by a large and noisy contingent.

Samatha Ayotte, a threat from the outside, nailed a 3-pointer with 1:19 left in the opening frame to get her team within 12-10. After Emily Monferrato’s corner jumper put the Frogs back up by 4, Ayotte again struck for Port, threading her way in for a layup.

But then, Amanda Leary, as she was to do all night, stopped Port’s momentum. First, she scored from under the hoop, then drew a foul with 1.4 seconds showing and sank both free throws to put Carle Place up 18-12 at quarter’s end.

Another 3-pointer by Ayotte early in the second got her team within 20-15. The Royals would draw no closer.

“It was a back-and-forth,” Reardon said of the early going. “Both teams came to play.”

Contrasting this contest with his teams’s Nassau Class B championship win over Friends Academy at Farmingdale State on Feb. 21, Reardon said, “There were nerves then, but not tonight. Once we settled down defensively, I really think we put our foot down. It was a heck of a battle. Both teams played really well.”

Carle Place went into the break up 39-25 and, despite a couple of flashes of comeback spirit from Port, slowly pulled away in the second half. With about three minutes left, Reardon put his bench in as the Frogs scored the game’s final 13 points.

“The Learys have been there all year,” the coach said of the sisters. “They’ve been great all year. I have every confidence in them.”

But it wasn’t just a “sister act.”

“Every girl who stepped on the court today contributed,” Reardon praised. “We got positive minutes from multiple players. And that’s how you win games.”

Playoff Uncertainty

The Frogs have lost in the state quarterfinal two successive years to Section I power Irvington of Westchester County. Irvington, the defending state champ, was beaten in the Section I final by Putnam Valley.

Carle Place is slated to play its next game, the state quarterfinal, at Farmingdale State College on March 15. Its opponent would be either Putnam Valley or Section 9 champ Marlboro. But due to the coronavirus concerns, the college has cancelled all outside activities and another venue is being sought.

Adding to the uncertainty. the game between Putnam Valley and Marlboro at Mt. Saint Mary College in Newburgh is up in the air. It was supposed to be played Wednesday, March 11 at 7 p.m. However, the college decided to cancel classes and all on-campus activities. Other venues have done the same, putting the entire postseason, according to one observer, at risk.

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Frank Rizzo is a journalist at Anton Media Group. With decades of experience in the industry, he is exceptionally equipped to cover local politics, business and other topics that matter to readers.

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