Annalyn Loiacona of Smithtown Christian drive past Morgan Huff of Cherry Valley at...

Annalyn Loiacona of Smithtown Christian drive past Morgan Huff of Cherry Valley at the Class D regional final between on Sunday, March 10, 2024. Credit: Neil Miller

Smithtown Christian has faced tough competition all season, but it met its toughest match in Section IV’s Cherry Valley-Springfield.

Senior guard Morgan Huff scored a team-high 17 points and Cherry Valley-Springfield used a big fourth quarter to seal its defeat of Smithtown Christian, 69-45, in a state Class D girls basketball Southeast Regional final at Farmingdale State on Sunday. 

Cherry Valley-Springfield used a 9-0 run to start the final quarter, in which it outscored Smithtown Christian 25-15 as the Knights were left without enough time to slice the double-digit lead.

Smithtown Christian, which was playing for a chance to advance to the state semifinals next weekend, finished 6-14. Coach Joe Loiacono praised his young team for reaching the regional final for the third year in a row despite losing key players last season.

“We lost our best player last year, so this was a very young team that we were looking to develop,” Loiacono said. “We expected this to be a rebuilding year so to get this far is tremendous.”

Freshman guard Annalyn Loiacono, Joe’s daughter, scored all 11 of the Knights’ points in the third quarter and finished with a game-high 25. Despite being hounded by multiple defenders, Loiacono knocked down three three-pointers in each half. She was also 5-for-5 from the foul line.

“We were missing one of our tallest starters, which made it harder, but we fought and every single one of us played really hard,” Annalyn said. “This was just an amazing opportunity and good experience for us as a team.”

Bryn Jansson hit five threes of her own, adding 15 points for the Knights. Cherry Valley-Springfield had the physicality that Smithtown Christian lacked in its 5-10 guard Daphnee West, who finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. 

“We’re confident that we’re coming back next year,” Annalyn said. “It was a tough loss, but this is just what we needed to get stronger. We know we can beat them next time.”

Her father agrees. 

“They were a great team and very well-coached. We’re a very young team so next season we expect to be back with much more of a chance,” the coach said. “We’re looking forward to next year.”

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