East Meadow captures L.I. title


Finishing runner-up in the Nassau Conference AA-1 girls’ basketball standings and getting the No. 7 playoff seed fueled the East Meadow Jets’ fire heading into the postseason.

And for the second time in a week, they made history.

Six days after completing a Cinderella run to capture its first-ever county championship, East Meadow led after every quarter in Sunday afternoon’s Long Island Class AA title game and defeated Westhampton, 51-46, before packed stands for both sides at Farmingdale State College.

“We just keep building off our last win and keep making history,” said junior Allie Twible, who led the Jets with 18 points. “It’s really amazing. Our program had never been to the semifinals before and now we’re county and Long Island champs. It doesn’t feel real.”

Freshman Angelina Cronin added 14 points, senior Keziah Philip had 8 points and 8 rebounds, and sophomore Kayla Lederer chipped in 5 points as East Meadow improved to 20-5 and advanced to face Albertus Magnus in a state Class AA semifinal this Friday at Hudson Valley Community College at 8:45 p.m. The state championship game is Saturday at 8:45 p.m.

“We’re on Cloud Nine,” East Meadow head coach Peter Olenik said. “It wasn’t pretty basketball, but sometimes you have to grind and find ways to win an ugly one. Westhampton is a scrappy, young and hungry team and we just had to keep battling.”

East Meadow led all the way and had to overcome a 3-point third quarter and struggles from the foul line in crunch time to hold off the Hurricanes, who knocked off Bellport in the Suffolk County AA final.

“We watched their county championship game twice and our biggest concern was their point guard,” said Olenik, referring to Westhampton’s Sandra Clarke. “We contained her to a large extent with Kayla doing a lot of the work, so that was big.”

For Westhampton (21-3), freshman Kate Sweet had 18 points and sophomores Jasmine Taylor and Clarke added 10 and 9, respectively.

East Meadow led 13-9 after the first quarter as senior Charlotte Viola beat the buzzer with a layup. The advantage was 33-26 at halftime, but the teams combined for just 10 points in the third quarter. The Jets still led 36-33 entering the fourth.

“Their defense got in our face a bit more than we’re used to, but our defense was just as strong in the third quarter and we never relinquished the lead,” said Olenik, who’s assisted by Nora Tracey.

Twible and Cronin got the offense moving again in the fourth and East Meadow’s dream season has at least another week left.

“Winning the county championship was incredible but I said to the girls all week don’t stop now,” Olenik said.

After opening the Nassau AA playoffs with a win over No. 10 Roslyn, the Jets upset the No. 2 (Garden City), No. 3 (MacArthur) and No. 1 seeds (Manhasset) to win their first-ever county crown.

Now they're two wins away from a state title.

“It’s hard to put into words,” Philip said. “We’re just so excited. That’s the best way to describe it. We’ve rallied around each other since the playoffs started and took things one step at a time. Beating Garden City gave us so much confidence.”