The Lynbrook girls’ basketball express train is steaming ahead entering the playoffs.
Lynbrook avenged its lone conference loss last week by beating Floral Park, finished out the regular season last Friday by rallying on the road to top mighty Plainedge and have a new featured defensive star in junior Jesse Bodian.
Lynbrook head coach Steve LoCicero compares Bodian to Hall-of-Fame defensive specialist Dennis Rodman. That’s how excited the coach is with Bodian’s late emergence.
After winning the powerhouse A4 conference title, Lynbrook received the second seed in the upcoming Nassau Class A playoff tournament.
“We’re playing our best basketball at the right time,’’ LoCicero said. “The team has never been as cohesive as we’ve been. We’ve always been cohesive but now moreso.’’
The prestigious A4 conference has four seeds in the top 8 – Lynbrook (2), Plainedge (4), Bethpage (5) and Floral Park (6.). The top seed is Manhasset.
“We’re hoping to go to the county finals and face Manhasset – or whoever,’’ LoCicero said. “I hope nobody in A4 sees each other until the semifinals. And that’s what happened last year.’’
Indeed, the Owls upset last season’s No. 1 seed Manhasset in the 2022 playoffs before losing in the semifinals. LoCicero views Manhasset as more dangerous now, but hopes Lynbrook’s depth will win out if the two tango.
“They’re extremely athletic but we have more kids who can play,’’ LoCicero said. “They have three Division I lacrosse players. They match up really well against us athletically.’’
Lynbrook (17-2) ended the regular season with a bang on Feb. 10 in North Massapequa. In the finale against host Plainedge, the Owls rallied from a 14-point hole in the second quarter, going on a 28-7 run to take the lead in the third quarter.
They were still down 44-43 with 3:40 left before closing on a 10-0 run to sprint into the postseason with surging momentum. Sophomores Brooke Mazzei (13) and Cate Jennings combined for 20 points.
“We went to a different defense – a triangle and 2 – and really confused them.,’’ LoCicero said.
The game marked the sensational rise of Bodian, a bench player across the season. She made her first start versus Plainedge and did it all on the defensive end to stop Plainedge’s marquee scorer, Julia Fabiano.
Bodian registered a gaudy line of 9 points, 10 rebounds, 5 blocks and 8 steals and is a likely candidate to start the playoff opener. Rodman, the former gritty Piston and Bulls defensive star, would be proud.
“She played the entire second half,’’ LoCicero said. “I didn’t sit her once. She was playing so well and never got tired. That’s unusual because I have so many girls who are so good.’’
Indeed, it’s the senior leadership of Kaelynn O’Brien, Tyla Vuotto and Caityblu Cavassa that has the Owls appearing as if there’s a legitimate shot at bringing home the county title to western Nassau County.
“My three seniors are dynamic,’’ LoCicero said. “This is because of them.’’
Meanwhile, Lynbrook avenged its lone conference loss, against Floral Park, in spectacular fashion, routing its opponent in the second half and ringing up a 60-43 win on Senior Night on Feb. 7. “Because of the amount of substitutes we use we wear people out.,’’ LoCicero said. “The seniors came up huge.’’
Expectations are high but LoCicero is not backing down from any of it.
“My girls, all of them have done something when they’ve faced difficulties, they responded,’’ said LoCicero, who retired as football coach before the past season to focus soley on the girls. “The way they’re responding, I don’t have any concerns.’’