Sewanhaka girls basketball coach Alex Soupios called it a perfect storm.
The defense executed as planned. The offense was patient, working the ball around for open shooters. Then, most importantly, the shots fell.
It culminated in the first Long Island Class A championship for Sewanhaka, as Flo Hunte’s 19 points and Carly Bolivar’s 16 points paced the Indians to a 66-48 win over Mount Sinai on Saturday afternoon at Farmingdale State.
Sewanhaka advances to the state final four against the Roosevelt (Yonkers)-Seton Catholic winner on Saturday at 9 a.m. at Hudson Valley CC in Troy.
“This is the fruits of their labor,” said Soupios, who was mobbed after the game by fans dressed in his signature shirt, tie and Sewanhaka-themed yellow and purple scarf. “It’s a beautiful thing.”
Sewanhaka (19-5) led 25-20 at halftime but saved its best run for the third quarter. The Indians outscored Mount Sinai 25-16 in the period behind a pair of three-pointers from both Hunte and Samirah Akinwunmi (nine points).
Her trey from the right corner just before the end of the quarter put Sewanhaka ahead 50-36. Bolivar made it 52-36 with 6:43 remaining on a driving layup between three Sinai defenders.
“At that point, I knew that we were just on the run,” said Bolivar, who shot 7 of 9 from the field and grabbed 10 rebounds. “Once our foot is on the pedal, we’re not stopping.”
Her side certainly didn’t stop, even as Brooke Cergol carried the Mustangs in the fourth quarter. She scored 10 of her game-high 21 points in the period, but Sewanhaka’s defensive pressure proved too much over the course of the game.
That defensive effort has been Sewanhaka’s calling card during the postseason, especially in wins over then-undefeated Island Trees in the county semifinals and Wantagh in the county championship game.
“The gameplan was just to play our game,” Hunte said. “It doesn’t matter who you play, as long as you play with heart, you’re going to come out on top.”
Forwards Mia Weinschreider, Ashley Cattle and Nia Lariosa were important contributors. Weinschreider scored all eight of her points in the first half, while Cattle scored all 10 of hers in the second half. Lariosa had four points and was the team’s top distributor, registering six assists.
Peaking after a 3-4 start to the season, Sewanhaka has forgotten about its past struggles, including an early exit during last year’s playoffs.
“It feels absolutely amazing,” Hunte said. “Last year, we were in such a bad place losing in the first round. We’re ready to keep going because we’re not done yet.”
Soupios got his start on Rich Castellano’s coaching staff in Northport, and he said he always wanted to emulate the success of Castellano’s program.
“For me, since I got in with Rich Castellano back in the late 90s, early 2000s, to watch him win and see the joy in those kids, and now see my own kids be able to celebrate their four months of hard work, it’s incredible,” Soupios said.
Bolivar shared a similar feeling.
“It’s honestly amazing just to say I’ve been a part of this.”
-- END --