NEWBURGH, N.Y. - Carle Place coach Michael Bello needed only three words to describe his team's season: "A total success."
He spoke just minutes after a 42-34 loss to Irvington in the state Southeast Regional Class B final at Mount St. Mary College Friday. Reaching the regional final was a highlight in the program's history. The Frogs, who cut a 12-point deficit to five against Irvington, hadn't advanced this far since 1992.
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Bello got no argument from senior Sarah Pisani. "I'd been to the county championship four times previously and lost every single time, so to win this year, and then to win Long Island and then to come here and put up a good showing, it's been incredible," said Pisani, who scored 12 points. "It stunk we lost today, but I couldn't have asked for a better season."
Trailing 33-21 with six minutes left, the Frogs (14-7) kept fighting. Eighth-grader Abigail Selhorn corralled an offensive rebound and, with multiple hands in her face, scored on a putback. She then knocked down a 15-footer to cut the deficit to eight.
"I was nervous at the beginning of the season," said Selhorn, who had 12 points and nine rebounds. "But with the team we have, our chemistry, it didn't take long for me to get comfortable."
Said Bello, "Abby was tremendous for us in the playoffs. And she's only going to get better."
Junior Kacey Burden added seven points and six rebounds.
Irvington (23-1) advanced to its fifth state semifinal in the last six years despite being held to six first-quarter points. Coach Gina Maher said Carle Place was "one of the toughest teams defensively we played all year."
With the majority of their players returning, the Frogs are poised to make another run next season, but it will be difficult to replace Pisani, the only senior on the roster. Her three-pointer from NBA range brought the Frogs to within 33-28 with 4:24 left.
"She's the playmaker. She's the one hitting the big shots," Selhorn said. "But more importantly, she's a great friend and a true leader. She'll pick you up when you're down."
Pisani joined the team as an eighth-grader and started for five years, missing only one game in that span, Bello said. He added, "I would never take anyone other than her to be my point guard."