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Veronica Venezia leads Mt. Sinai to Suffolk ABC title

Mt. Sinai's Veronica Venezia (44) grabs the rebound

Mt. Sinai's Veronica Venezia (44) grabs the rebound during the Suffolk Class ABC girls basketball final against Mattituck on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017 at Suffolk County Community College. Credit: Alan J Schaefer

When Mount Sinai took a lead in the first quarter of the Suffolk ABC title game, Gabriella Sartori saw an opportunity that she wouldn’t let slip in what continues to be a remarkable season.

“I knew we had to calm down,” Sartori said. “We couldn’t let the momentum shift their way and today, to keep making school history is what we want.”

Mount Sinai took off and built an insurmountable lead to take the Suffolk ABC title with a 59-42 win over Mattituck at Suffolk County Community College-Brentwood on Tuesday.

The Mustangs built their lead on runs, fueled by Veronica Venezia, who had 14 points and 18 rebounds, and Sartori’, who also scored 14 points. They strung together a 14-2 streak spanning the first and second half, maintained consistency when the points were harder to come by and never lost the lead after taking it at 5-4.

“Whether it’s us or the other team, someone’s going to go on a run,” said Victoria Johnson, who had 11 points. “You have to be mentally prepared, if it’s them, to come back from it or if it’s you, to keep pushing.”

That’s a lesson learned over the long haul. This may be the first Suffolk A and now ABC championship for Mount Sinai (21-1), but many of the players have been on the court together dating to middle school.

“We were so young when we started, so we obviously struggled our way through playing against older girls, but we were able to build a team bond,” Johnson, a senior, said.

Venezia, another senior, has been a consistent presence on both ends of the floor — rebounding and scoring from under the basket.

“We’ve been together for such a long time and we started off not doing the best and we’re finally progressing and playing as a team,” Venezia said.

Liz Dwyer had 14 points for Mattituck (19-3), which will play in the Class B small schools final against Carle Place on Monday.

Mount Sinai’s experienced group will head to the Suffolk overall championship Sunday against the Commack-Central Islip winner, looking to keep a streak going that was years in the making.

“It hasn’t been done before ever,” Sartori said, “and it’s just great that I get to do it with these girls.”

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