Suffolk Athletes of the Year / Babylon's Peters and East Islip's Cronin voted Dellecave winners

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The nominees are some of the best high-school athletes in

their respective schools' history. Their coaches sing their praises, but they

speak about themselves modestly. The accolades from all sides are lengthy,

while they prepare for the next challenge.

Babylon's Drew Peters and East Islip's Patti Cronin are two of the best of

this school year's crop, and their character, commitment and leadership

prompted a panel of sportswriters and sports officials to select the pair as

the Dellecave Award winners for outstanding Suffolk male and female high school

athletes for 2001-02. Presented yesterday at Patchogue's West Lake Inn, the

awards were presented jointly by Newsday and the Suffolk Hall of Fame.

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St. Anthony's Matt Boshart, Amityville's Jason Fraser, Harborfields' Josh

Johnston and Port Jefferson's David Kahn were the other male finalists. Ward

Melville's Kaitlin Geller, Bayport-Blue Point's Diane Heiser, Brentwood's

Yolanda Malcolm and Bellport's Kelly Powell were female finalists.

Islip's Mike Patrovich and Wyandanch's Lenore Heron were the inaugural

winners last year. The award is named in honor of Gaetano "Butch" Dellecave, a

former Connetquot teacher, basketball official and Hall-of- Fame founder.

Peters and Cronin received a $1,000 scholarship.

"We look at their attitude, sportsmanship and leadership, and put it all

into consideration," Hall of Fame executive director Edward Morris said. "They

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aren't just great athletes; they're all-around leaders."

Peters, who received a scholarship to play lacrosse at Notre Dame,

participated in three Long Island football championship games and was a

four-year starter. The 6-3, 195-pound wide receiver and tailback was a two-time

All-Long Island selection and had 91 tackles, 5 interceptions and 3 fumble

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recoveries this season. He made 26 receptions and caught two touchdown passes.

"I could talk for hours about him," Babylon football coach Hans Wiederkehr

said. "The best part about Drew is that he is a great kid. He is a kid that you

want your son to be like. He's the reason other people became better."

Peters helped his teammates become better on the basketball court and

lacrosse field, as well. He averaged 11 points and nine rebounds as a senior

and was named all-league for the second consecutive season. Lacrosse was his

best sport. Although his team was riddled with injuries, the midfielder had 71

points (43 goals) this season despite double-teams. An All-American and

All-Long Island selection, Peters finished his five-year career with 149 goals

and 104 assists.

"It didn't matter what type of uniform he was in, he was very competitive,"

Babylon boys basketball and lacrosse coach Steve Edmonds said. "He was always

under pressure, and handled it well. Other people depended on him, and it was

never too much for him."

Peters is working as a lifeguard and referees in a youth-lacrosse league

this summer before he departs for South Bend. "I see myself as someone who

tries to do the right things," he said. "I try to be successful by working hard

all the time. It has to come from within yourself."

East Islip girls basketball coach Mike Petre noticed the drive within

Cronin from the instant she stepped onto the varsity court as an eighth-

grader. He called his point guard, "the best winner in Suffolk."

Cronin was All-County in soccer, basketball and softball each of the past

three years. She accepted a basketball scholarship to Queens College after

averaging 17.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.1 steals and 4.1 assists for the Suffolk

Class A finalists this past season. She completed her five-year career with

1,260 points and was named All-Long Island. Cronin led East Islip to the

public-schools final in 2001.

"Her energy and passion permeated to everyone around her," Petre said. "Her

energy and passion were actually tangible things.

"You can feel her desire to win. Very few kids can combine athleticism with

determination, skill and effort like Patti. You can count them on one hand.

That's what makes her special. She left an indelible mark."

Cronin also had 12 goals and 6 assists in soccer and was a star infielder

in softball.

"Anything I do, I don't want to let other people down," said Cronin, an

East Islip basketball camp instructor this summer. "I just hate losing. I'm a

sore loser. I go all out all the time, so I don't have any regrets."

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