Balanced roster leads Lynbrook


To say that everyone contributed to the success of the Lynbrook Lady Owls’ 2018-19 basketball season would be an understatement.

Backed by an 18-girl roster in which each player scored points this season, Lynbrook qualified for the playoffs for a fifth straight winter and beat conference-rival Valley Stream South in an outbracket game to finish with 11 wins, two better than last season.

But it wasn’t easy for the Lady Owls. After a 7-2 start, they stumbled a bit with separate losing streaks of three and four games heading into their crucial Feb. 7 contest with struggling Lawrence. The Golden Tornadoes led 10-8 after the first quarter, but Lynbrook responded with a 22-3 second quarter and cruised the rest of the way for a 55-30 victory that all but clinched a Conference A-4 playoff spot.

That momentum carried over four days later into the Valley Stream South outbracket game as the Lady Owls led 16-4 after the first quarter and 44-27 through three en route to a 55-36 win. The game proved to be a big step for Lynbrook, which had lost the outbracket game the previous two seasons.

The girls eventually lost to Mineola on Feb. 13, but head coach Stephen LoCicero was not about to have the team hang their heads in defeat.

“I think it was a very successful season from a lot of standpoints,” he said. “The girls gave tremendous effort and practiced really well. The teams that we lost to just happened to be better. We were playing our best basketball at the end of the season.”

Sophomore Leanna Sullivan led the team in scoring with a 7.8 average, including a 23-point effort against Wantagh on Feb. 2, and freshman point guard Kyla Nembach impressed by averaging just over seven points a game.

Sophomore Camilla Bahri (6.9 ppg) was the team’s third-best scorer and often had the ball in her hands with the game on the line. On Dec. 29, she hit a 3-pointer from the corner with three seconds to give the Lady Owls a 46-45 win over Our Lady of Mercy.

Eight other girls averaged at least four points a game in the team’s deep rotation, but it was a strong defense that LoCicero and the Lady Owls were most prideful about after averaging just under 43 points per game entering the Mineola contest.

Sullivan and sophomore defensive stalwart Kayla Schwizer both earned All-County honorable mention for their efforts this season.

The Lady Owls will lose just three seniors to graduation this spring in Madison Barroso, Katie Bamman and Kerin Bartels, who missed most of the second half of the season due to injury. But all of them played a big role in the team’s success and LoCicero expressed great admiration for each player.

“We had great senior leadership,” he said. “Katie Bamman played great defense and Maddie Barroso was just an Energizer bunny-type girl. She gives everything she has [and] loves the success of other people. Senior leadership was tremendous for us this year.”