Be patient with the Mount Sinai girls basketball team. The Mustangs are a little new at this celebrating-big-wins thing.
Top-seeded Mount Sinai earned a 54-42 win over second-seeded Harborfields in the Suffolk Class A final before a crowd of 500 Friday night at Riverhead.
Afterward, Mount Sinai stood with its first girls basketball county title plaque near midcourt as dozens of parents, friends and fans took pictures of the team, coach Mike Pappalardo and his coaching staff.
The players started going in different directions before everyone got together again for a second round of photos. This time Pappalardo made sure his 18-month-old daughter, Anna, was in the picture.
Who could blame him, or anyone, for two rounds of team photos after such a historic event in Mount Sinai High School sports history?
“We could stay here all night,” said senior captain Victoria Johnson, who scored 11 of her 16 points in the second half. “This is all I’ve ever wanted.”
The Mustangs (20-1), who led by as many as 15 points in the first half, watched Harborfields (19-2) close to within six points on four occasions in the second half.
The Tornadoes made it 45-41 with 3:12 remaining on a basket by eighth-grader Madison Brady (seven points).
But the Tornadoes missed their final five shots from the field and Johnson — who had only five points in the first half — shot 7-for-8 from the free-throw line in the final 31 seconds to wrap up a piece of history for the Mustangs.
Senior Christiana de Borja had 13 points to lead Harborfields.
“I’m real bummed right now,” Harborfields coach G. Davis Lavey said. “I wish we had one more practice [Saturday] and one more game to play.”
Lavey and Harborfields could look to the first quarter as to why their season ended.
Mustangs sophomore Gabriella Sartori scored 10 points as Mount Sinai took an 18-9 lead after a quarter. Johnson’s jumper gave the Mustangs a 24-9 lead early in the second quarter, and they led 31-19 at the half.
Sartori scored 16 points and senior captain Veronica Venezia added 12 points and six rebounds for the Mustangs, who will meet Class B champion Mattituck for the Suffolk Small Schools championship at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Suffolk CCC-Brentwood.
Pappalardo proved prophetic in the preseason. “I told the girls before the season we could win a championship,” he said. “We talked about it after every practice.”
And now the Mustangs can get even more practice at how to celebrate big victories.