Lynbrook denied crown by Manhasset


A breakthrough season for Lynbrook girls’ basketball fell just short of the program’s first county title in 45 years.

The Owls (20-3) trailed almost the entirety of last Saturday's Nassau County Class A championship game and were never able to get over the hump after cutting an 11-point deficit to one in a 53-38 loss to top-seeded Manhasset at Hofstra’s Mack Sports Complex.

“Today we didn't have our best day, but I wouldn’t take anything away from how well our kids played and how hard they played,” Lynbrook head coach Stephen LoCicero said moments after his team’s hard-fought defeat in the school’s first county finals appearance since the 2011-12 campaign. “Sometimes in life the day is not yours for whatever reason.”

Lynbrook, which held its only lead at 2-0, fell behind 24-13 late in the second quarter before closing the half in a 7-0 run. Senior point guard Kaelynn O’Brien accounted for six of the seven points including a late bucket in the final seconds that cut the deficit to 24-20 at the half.

An O’Brien three-pointer midway through the third quarter brought Lynbrook to within one at 30-29 before Manhasset regained control with an 8-0 run. Manhasset won the fourth quarter 19-9 which included a 7-0 run down the stretch after Lynbrook had drawn within five at 40-35 with 3:20 left. 

O’Brien led Lynbrook with 11 points. Caityblu Cavassa and Tyla Vuotto scored seven apiece and Kate Benedit tallied six points for the Owls. Sophomore Brooke Mazzei, who scored 24 in a 63-39 semifinal victory against Floral Park at Hofstra on Feb. 27, was limited to four points by a stifling Manhasset defense that held Lynbrook to its lowest scoring output of the season. 

“Lynbrook is a great team with some incredible shooters,” Manhasset head coach Lauren Sadeh said. “We stuck to the game plan and withstood their run at the end of the first half. Our 1-3-1 defense has been our bread-and-butter all season and was strong again today.”

Manhasset was led by 13 points from Mia LoPinto, 12 by Ali McIntyre and 11 apiece from Caitlin Barrett and Nicoletta Tsiamis. 

The county crown marked the first for Manhasset since 1993 and sends the Indians to the Long Island Class A finals against Shoreham-Wading River at Farmingdale State College this Saturday. 

Saturday’s game marked a rematch of last year’s Class A quarterfinals where Lynbrook as the No. 9-seed upset top-seeded Manhasset,75-64, before the Owls dropped an overtime heartbreaker to Floral Park in the semis. Lynbrook graduates senior leaders O’Brien, Cavassa and Vuotto, but LoCicero is excited about the winning foundation they helped establish. 

“We haven't been in this game since 2012 and we haven't won it since 1978 so this is a pretty special moment for these girls and they worked really hard in order to get here,” LoCicero said. “That shouldn't be lost in just one game whether that game is a win or a loss. The season is more important than just one game.”