Mt. Sinai's Dominic Pennzello moves the ball in the fourth quarter...

Mt. Sinai's Dominic Pennzello moves the ball in the fourth quarter during a Suffolk boys basketball game against host Sayville on Thursday. Credit: Bob Sorensen

The Mount Sinai boys basketball team entered Thursday’s game at Sayville with some extra motivation.

After losing by two to the Golden Flashes at home on Jan. 4, the Mustangs wanted to even the season series — and clinch a Class A playoff spot in the process.

Led by 6-2 junior guard/forward Dominic Pennzello’s 21 points and 11 rebounds, Mount Sinai never trailed en route to an emphatic 56-41 win in a Suffolk League V game.

“It was definitely personal,” Pennzello said. “We wanted it bad, very bad.”

“These guys had beaten us back in the first week of January, and it was a great game at our place,” Mount Sinai coach Ryan McNeely said. “And we were missing a key piece, [Andrew] Chandrika, [who] has been great for us all year long. We still had a shot to get that one, but we let it go at the end.”

Chandrika was important the second time around, scoring 10 points. Forward Brian Vales had 12 points and seven rebounds and guard Blake Kolsch added 11 points and seven boards for Mount Sinai (11-5, 8-4).

“Every opponent is so worried about me now,” Pennzello said. “They don’t know about my teammates, and my teammates are scoring.”

Pennzello, a two-time Newsday top 100 selection, notched his 11th 20-point game of the season.

“Nobody expected me to be here,” he said. “I’m balling out this season. It’s a breakout.”

Richie Carmody scored 22 points for Sayville (11-6, 9-4), his seventh 20-point game of the season.

The Mustangs did not allow a field goal in the first 4:14 and took an 11-5 lead into the second quarter. They led 28-19 at halftime and 43-28 at the end of the third.

Pennzello’s effort was balanced throughout as he scored five points in the first quarter, four in the second, six in the third and six in the fourth. He is the lone starter returning from the 2022-23 Mustangs team that lost to Kings Park in the Suffolk Class A final.

“He’s been great for not only the team but for this program,” McNeely said. “ . . . He’s kind of like our silent leader. He’s kind of a quiet guy out there and he lets the playing do the talking. But the other guys know that he’s a big-time player and he’s one of our leaders.”

McNeely knew the league was tough heading into the season, expecting every night to be a “grind.” With Chandrika the Mustangs’ only starting senior, McNeely set a goal of getting to the playoffs with hopes of four starters returning for 2024-25 with postseason experience.

Mount Sinai now will play for seeding rather than just a spot. Have expectations changed?

Said McNeely: “If you get in, get a little hot right there, win the whole thing, why not? Someone’s got to win it, right?”

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