Hannah Blaskiewicz, Kerri Gunther, Dominique Rinaldi and Emma Famularo started their journey on the Sayville varsity basketball team three years ago as four wide-eyed sophomores.
They embraced the learning curve and the disappointing losses as steps in the right direction. The goal? Become a county champion as seniors.
And then COVID happened and there was the possibility of no senior season this winter.
"We can honestly say it was a blessing when we were told we’d have a season and be able to play," Rinaldi said. "We’re taking no chances and decided to wear our masks while we’re playing — all of us. And we encourage everyone to wear masks because safety is the top priority."
Blaskiewicz, Gunther and Famularo scored 14 points apiece as Sayville cruised to a 67-34 win over Mount Sinai in Thursday night’s Suffolk girls basketball game.
Rinaldi’s final contribution was a third-quarter pass across the paint on a well-timed cut to Famularo for the easy basket and a 49-22 lead.
"We’re all about teamwork and spreading the wealth," Rinaldi said. "We encourage ball movement and team play."
It was a complete team effort in the season opener for Sayville. The Golden Flashes shared the ball to put 10 players on the final scoresheet.
"This is an excellent group of team players," said Sayville coach Phil DePompeo, in his 23rd year as coach. "We’re taking every day as if it is gift. They’re buying into our run-and-gun offense and have a lot of experience coming into the season."
Mount Sinai (1-1) was forced to play without its talented sophomore point guard, Kylie Budke, who was sidelined with an undisclosed injury. The Mustangs struggled to move the ball upcourt under the constant pressure and committed 14 first-half turnovers.
Perhaps more glaring than the numerous turnovers was the Mustangs' inability to convert easy looks under the basket.
"Not a very good performance in that first half where we hurt ourselves with our inside shooting," Mount Sinai coach Jeff Koutsantanou said. "We hit one of 16 shots in the paint in the first half. It was a struggle. If we hit more of those it’s a game."
Sayville, which never trailed, led 12-9 after the first quarter. The Golden Flashes used a 27-4 second quarter, including an 18-0 run to close it, for a 39-13 halftime lead. Blaskiewicz led all scorers with 12 at the half.
"We were a little nervous but very excited coming to Mount Sinai and they did a great job to keep us safe and make it possible to play the game," Blaskiewicz said. "And now it’s on to the next game and playing the entire season and making it to the playoffs. It’s a great start."