Lynbrook surges into county title game


The Lynbrook girls’ basketball team looked dominant Monday night as it was able to take care of a feisty Floral Park squad in the Nassau Class A semifinals to move one step close to its first county championship since 1978.
The Owls were led by senior Kaelynn O’Brien, who scored 15 points, and sophomore Brooke Mazzei who had a game-high 24 points in the 63-39 victory at Hofstra University. Not only did O’Brien and Mazzei light up the score sheet on offense, but they also played great defense, contributing three steals apiece.
The Owls forced 18 turnovers and were able to hold Floral Park’s top scorer Emma Kline to 12 points. Lynbrook head coach Steve LoCicero showed pride in how well his team played on the defensive end of the floor.
“We play very good defense too in Lynbrook, it really feeds our offense,” he said. “We put in a new defense for this game and it worked out really well. Mazzei, O’Brien, [Tyla] Vuotto, and [Caityblu] Cavassa really, really do a good job. We still think of ourselves as underdogs. We believe we’re the one seed and not everyone thought so. Everybody was picking Floral Park, so we’ll take that underdog energy any day.”
The turning point happened with just under two minutes left in the second half. After trading leads, Floral Park was putting pressure on Lynbrook until Mazzei swiped a pass and drove to the basket for two on back to back possessions. This jumpstarted an 8-0 Owls run before the half ended and swung the momentum completely in Lynbrook’s favor.

“I feel comfortable with a more defensive game style. I try to do whatever I can with my speed,” Mazzei said. “I know I can try to confuse the other team and causing chaos on defense is the best thing I can do.”
It can’t be discredited how important the senior leadership is on LoCicero’s team. Starting the second half with a nine-point lead, the Owls never looked back and played calm, cool, and collected for the rest of the contest. Nine different Owls recorded points — Cavassa added seven and sophomore Kate Benedict chipped in five — as Lynbrook outscored Floral Park 16-10 in the third quarter and then started the fourth on a 12-2 run that put the game out of reach.
“My three seniors [O’Brien, Vuotto, and Cavassa] are as good as any seniors I’ve had in 32 years of coaching at Lynbrook,” LoCicero noted. “I’ve won a Long Island championship in football and I’m going to win a [basketball] county championship here because my senior class is awesome.”
Lynbrook (20-2) will face top-seeded Manhasset (22-1) this Saturday at noon in the Class A title game at Hofstra. Last year Lynbrook, as the No. 9 seed, pulled off a quarterfinal playoff upset and sent Manhasset home early. This year, the Owls are more experienced and are looking to knock off the Indians once again.
“It’s definitely very exciting, but there are nerves because it’s our first counties in 40-something years,” O’Brien said. “It’s a big task to complete, but I think we can do it.”