Historic county crown for East Meadow


The girls’ basketball team will finally have a banner in the East Meadow High School gym.

Junior Allison Twible scored a game-high 20 points and senior Charlotte Viola added 18, including two huge free throws in the final seconds, as the seventh-seeded Jets claimed their first-ever county championship after holding off top-seeded Manhasset, 69-66, in the Nassau Class AA title game Monday night at Farmingdale State College.

Freshman Angelina Cronin scored 13 points and sophomore Kayla Lederer had 12 with a key steal in the final minute for East Meadow, which beat the top three seeds en route to the championship. The Jets (19-5) will return to Farmingdale to face Section XI titleist Westhampton Beach (21-2) for the Long Island Class AA championship Sunday afternoon at 2:30.

“It’s unbelievable,” an emotional Jets head coach Peter Olenik said afterwards. “I can’t describe even what I’m feeling right now other than absolute pride in my girls, pride in this program. No boys or girls' team has ever been to a county semi, never mind a county final and to take it home is just…right now I can’t even put it into words.”

The Jets were poised for a comfortable victory after taking a 63-49 lead with 4:23 left, but the Indians took advantage of East Meadow turnovers and missed shots and scored 13 of the next 15 points to pull within 65-62 with 1:16 remaining.

Manhasset had the ball down by three with 48 seconds left and were moving it around the half-court when Lederer intercepted an inside pass and drove down the court before being fouled on her drive.

“I was like, ‘I just gotta get this,’ and I just got it and ran,” Lederer recalled.

She hit the first shot, but missed the second, and the Indians took advantage on Amelia LoPinto’s baseline basket that made it 66-64 with 28.5 ticks remaining.

Twible also hit one of two free throws with 24.4 seconds left, but Lauren Perfetto converted an offensive rebound on Manhasset’s ensuing possession to cut the deficit to one with 8.6 seconds left. Viola was quickly fouled and she nailed both free throws to ice the game.

“When I practice free throws, even in my backyard, I say ‘pressure’ in my head,” Viola said. “So I just did that at the line and it kinda flows and blocks out everything else.”

East Meadow began the playoff run with a 70-30 win over No. 10 Roslyn on Feb. 16. The Jets then edged second-seeded Garden City 56-55 on Feb. 22 before stunning No. 3 MacArthur 60-25 in the semifinals at Farmingdale four days later.

“We always knew we had the skill, we always knew we had the players, it was just a matter of it coming together,” Viola said. “I think our game against Garden City, beating the two seed really brought our confidence up to be able to take it all the way.”

Manhasset held an 18-12 lead after the first quarter and a 27-24 advantage with four minutes left in the second before East Meadow went on a 12-3 run to end the half. Viola’s 3-pointer from the left arc tied the game and Lederer’s drive put the Jets up by two.

Cronin saved an errant pass in the Jets’ offensive zone which led to Twible’s basket and then drilled a trey from the left corner to make it 34-27. Manhasset’s Danielle Perfetto answered with her own 3-pointer with five seconds left, but that was just enough time for Twible to hit a buzzer-beating shot from the left post to make it 36-30 at halftime.