Iris Hoffman of Whitman, Allie Twible of East Meadow and Gianna...

Iris Hoffman of Whitman, Allie Twible of East Meadow and Gianna Zawol of Kings Park. Credit: James Escher

Three Long Island girls basketball teams have already made program history, so why not add a little more?

Whitman, East Meadow and Kings Park are all making their first trips to the girls basketball state semifinals this weekend at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy.

They’ve all had different paths toward history. Whitman was one win away from the state semifinals last year before losing in the Long Island championship. East Meadow has been the underdog story, at least from a seeding perspective, this postseason and Kings Park is coming off its first county championship in program history.

Kings Park (19-5) opens the weekend 2:15 p.m. Friday with a Class A semifinal matchup against Walter Panas, the defending Class A state champions. A victory would send Kings Park to the final, scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday.

“I don’t think anyone expected us to get here and this team just really rallied around each other and it’s led to this,” Kings Park coach Tom Edmundson said. “I think the entire journey has been incredible. They’ve just found incredible ways to bond.”

East Meadow (20-5) also won its first county title in program history and had external motivators pushing them throughout the postseason. When the Nassau Class AA playoff seedings were released, the Jets were shocked to see themselves as the No. 7 seed. But they knocked off each of the top three seeds on their path to the state semifinals.

“We were out to prove something,” East Meadow coach Peter M. Olenik said. “We are a very good basketball team and we’re playing our best basketball at the right time. I think it just fueled us to want to prove something, not only to the other teams that we played but to ourselves and to East Meadow that we have something special here and I think we’ve proven that thus far.”

East Meadow plays Albertus Magnus in the Class AA semifinals on Friday at 8:45 p.m. The state final is scheduled for Saturday at 8:45 p.m.

“[Albertus Magnus is] a good team, they’re ranked No. 2 in the state right now and we’re ranked 25th in the state, but seedings and rankings don’t seem to bother my team,” said Olenik with a laugh. “They don’t look at the numbers. They just go out and they play their best possible basketball that they can and win or lose, they’re going to leave it on the floor. I know that.”

Whitman (21-3) lost to Baldwin in the Long Island Class AA championship game last season and never forgot that feeling of nearly advancing to Troy. The Wildcats will have a tough opening matchup against Our Lady of Lourdes in the Class AAA semifinals on Saturday at 10:45 a.m. The state final is Sunday at 10:45 am. Our Lady of Lourdes is led by Simone Pelish, a 6-foot guard committed to play at Miami.

“She’s tough and she’s surrounded by a bunch of pretty good shooters,” Whitman coach Dan Trebour said. “But at this point in the season, you should be at the top of your game and I think we’re prepared and ready to go.”


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