TROY, N.Y. - What's the big news in Levittown these days? The marquee outside of Division High School says it all: "Congratulations to the Long Island Class A champion Lady Dragons."
The month of March has been different for the Division girls basketball team, and not just because they still were playing basketball instead of lacrosse.
"It's been crazy," said Molly Bauer, one of the team's captains. "It's like we're celebrities. Every day teachers are coming up and congratulating us."
The team even got complimentary Chicken Classics from the Division Avenue Deli. That's what happens when you become the first basketball team from Levittown ever to reach the state final four.
The run ended for Division Friday in the state Class A semifinals with a 51-45 loss to Lakeland, but nothing could diminish the significance of the season.
"I said, 'Keep your heads up.' They did,'' coach Steve Kissane said Friday. "They're great representatives of Long Island and great representatives of Levittown."
It should be no surprise that these girls have become local celebrities. The team is the core of Division athletics. After this weekend, eight of the 12 players on the team will prepare for the girls lacrosse season.
Taylor Malings laughed as she counted off the list.
"Our athleticism definitely helps," she said. "Just playing sports all year round keeps us in shape."
Few teams could match Division's athleticism as the Dragons rolled to a 20-2 record and lost only once to a Long Island team. Division's relentless defense did not allow a team to score 50 points until the Long Island championship game against Harborfields.
The winning ways started long before the team set foot on a court. Six players were on Division's county finalist soccer team, also coached by Kissane.
Julie Ballantyne was Division's leading scorer against Lakeland. She also was one of the soccer team's leading scorers.
It's not surprising that Nicolette Parmese sacrificed her body for loose balls all season. She was the goalkeeper.
Malings, Bauer, Christina Rea and Janelle Marxhausen also honed their winning ways on the soccer field.
And it's not just soccer. Division would not have made it upstate without its pair of 6-footers, Kristen Stuart and Kristen Costello.
There are no easy layups against Stuart. She used her speed to get back on defense and make blocks on what seemed like guaranteed easy layups. She's also one of the top sprinters in Nassau.
Costello's skills as a shot- blocker are evidence of a fall spent on the volleyball court, but her journey goes back even further. She transferred from Holy Trinity two years ago for personal reasons, a decision that has worked out well.
"I have absolutely no regrets at all," Costello said after Friday's game. "I thought sports might be less competitive, but this is as good as it gets. I played against a girl going to Vanderbilt and some of the best players on Long Island . . . I'm really proud of everyone."
They won't play in the state final, but this season's team has cemented its legacy.
Malings summed up the journey: "Just spending time up here with my team and getting to play my favorite sport with my favorite girls - it was a really cool experience."