Usually when it comes to the movies, the sequel doesn’t measure up the original.
But that was not the case for the Northport girls basketball team Saturday night when the Tigers met Longwood for the second straight season for the Suffolk Class AA championship.
Longwood won by two points a year ago, but this time it was Northport’s turn. Danielle Pavinelli had an outstanding performance with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists as the top-seeded Tigers captured their first Suffolk AA crown since 2006 after a 60-50 win against No. 2 Longwood before a crowd of 1,000 at St. Joseph’s College’s Danzi Athletic Center on Saturday night.
“This game means everything,” said Pavinelli, who will attend the University of Florida on a lacrosse scholarship. “We have been thinking about [a possible rematch] since we walked out of Walt Whitman [High School, site of the 2019 Suffolk AA championship] with this in the back of our minds since then.”
Northport (21-2) meets Westhampton for the Suffolk overall championship at 5 p.m. Thursday at Ward Melville High School. Northport has a Suffolk-record nine overall county titles. (Westhampton is in search of its first.) Shanyah Wilson had 13 points and six rebounds for Longwood -- which won the Class AA and Suffolk overall championships last season -- and ends up 20-4.
The Tigers hadn’t won a Suffolk championship since a three-year run of titles from 2004 through 2006. It took the Suffolk overall championship in 2006, and last won a Long Island crown in 2004. Northport will meet the Nassau representative (which has yet to be determined) on Sunday, March 15 at St. Joseph’s College for the Long Island Class AA championship.
After a thrilling first three quarters, both teams started the fourth quarter cold. A driving layup by Kelly McLaughlin (9 points) with 2:47 remaining in the game gave Northport a 53-46 lead.
Later, Pavinelli added a pair of free throws with 1:16 to go and the lead grew to 56-47. Longwood would never get closer than seven (56-49) as Northport was content to run a weave that melted the clock and the Lions’ season.
Angelene Bailey had 11 points and eight rebounds, and Janelle Brown added nine points, six assists and five rebounds for Longwood, which made just two field goals the entire fourth quarter. Pavinelli scored seven points in the final period.
“Danielle is our go-to-player, our captain, our leader,” Northport coach Rich Castellano said. “She’s a coach’s dream . . . She’s the reason why we are here. She carried us on her backs, and the rest of the girls helped out and were willing to be carried.”
Which made for one heck of a sequel.