There is no panic in this Central Islip girls basketball team. Comeback wins have been a part of the fabric of a magical season in which the Musketeers won the Suffolk Class AA title.
Sunday was more of the same. In its bid to win the Suffolk overall crown, Central Islip found itself trailing by 10 points deep in the third quarter against Class A champ Mount Sinai.
“We have a very mature team that never seems to get rattled,” Central Islip coach Paul Venturi said. “We’re pretty much unflappable. They’ve been amazing in difficult situations.”
Central Islip erased a five-point deficit in the fourth quarter and went 6-for-8 from the foul line in the final 2:10 to beat Mount Sinai, 51-42, and claim the school’s first Suffolk overall championship.
Naabea Assibey-Bonsu and Chanel Taylor, who scored 18 points each, both hit two pivotal free throws in the final minute to seal the win.
“We did it at the free-throw line tonight,” Venturi said. “Big pressure situations and the girls made their shots.”
Venturi said Mount Sinai played a tremendous game and that its effort should be lauded. “We didn’t come in very focused and they jumped on us,” he said. “We were like, ‘This is for real, they can play.’ We were playing a good team and finally got into our transition game in the second half.”
Olivia Williams led a Mount Sinai defense that held CI in check and built a 10-point lead in the third quarter. Veronica Venezia had 14 points and 17 rebounds. Gabby Sartori added 13 points and Victoria Johnson had nine.
“I thought we played great defense,” Mount Sinai coach Mike Pappalardo said. “We got into some foul trouble in the fourth quarter, and that changed things. We were forced to foul and they were making the free throws. But this was a great look for us in preparation for the Long Island championship game against Elmont next week.”
Mount Sinai (21-2) will meet Elmont for the Long Island Class A crown at noon Saturday at SUNY Old Westbury. “Central Islip plays in transition like Elmont,” Pappalardo said. “And our girls got a good look at what they’ll see next week.”
For Central Islip (23-2), which will face Baldwin for the Long Island Class AA title at 2 p.m. Saturday at SUNY Old Westbury, the magical ride continues.
“We’ve been down in games against quality teams like Hills East and Bay Shore and came back,” Venturi said. “There’s nothing these girls can’t do. Funny thing is, we’re still only learning how to celebrate. It’s been great.”