The Farmingdale Dalers girls basketball team are champions of Conference AA-I.
While the Dalers clinched at least a share of the title last week with Massapequa, a 54-37 win over Syosset Monday night at Syosset High School won the title outright, their first since 2004.
The victory caps off a 16-2 regular season for the Dalers, while Syosset finishes at 5-10. Kyra Ochwat led the Dalers with 20 points, while Lauren Maturo paced Syosset with 11.
Farmingdale’s playoff journey will begin Thursday night against an opponent that was unknown when the bus departed the parking lot. But that didn’t seem to concern any of the 11 Dalers who were rolling home as champions. Seeding and match-ups will be determined at a Nassau County basketball meeting on Tuesday night.
“They’re doing well and there’s 12 teams left now," Farmingdale coach Pete Cerrone said. “We want to get to the next round where there’s six, then the next where there’s four. We’re having fun and we want to keep playing.”
While Farmingdale left the gym thinking about what lies ahead of them, Syosset was left to ponder what has been a season of almosts and what-ifs. The Braves finished the year 4-8 in Conference AA-I, one spot out of the playoffs. For the four seniors honored before the game, the loss marked the end of their Syosset Braves career.
“I’m pleased that we always played hard,” Syosset coach Doug Schumacher said. “We improved at different facets of the game throughout the season. Our goal last season was to get better every game and our goal this season was the same and we pretty much did that throughout the course of the season.”
A massive upset was on Syosset’s mind entering the second quarter. A Braves lineup that featured all four seniors held a 14-11 lead. But seven consecutive Daler points began a second quarter in which Farmingdale outscored Syosset 13-3.
“They’re real quick when they go to their half-court trap,” Schumacher said. “We struggled to get the ball down to Lauren (Maturo) diving down the lane. We never really burned them on that press, so they were able to play it all game.”
Hero: Ochwat gave Farmingdale their first lead of the game early in the first quarter when she nailed a 3-pointer and the shot served as an omen for things to come. The game-high scorer knocked down four 3-pointers as she shot her way to a 20 point night. She began the second half with five consecutive points, solidifying the title for Farmingdale.
Turning Point: Farmingdale held a 24-17 lead at the half. Although Syosset had only scored three points in the second quarter, they were still in the game. That changed after Farmingdale opened up the third with an 11-2 run. What was a nail biter quickly turned into a blowout.
Quotable: “Enjoy the fact that we’re conference champs,” Cerrone said of his message to his team. “Come tomorrow, everyone is zero and zero. Now, you play until you lose.”
“They played hard,” Schumacher said of his seniors. “The first quarter was nice for them to get out there as a senior group and play hard like that. It was nice to watch.”
Bottom Line: As Farmingdale stood amongst themselves moments after grabbing sole possession of the Conference AA-I championship, an assistant coach reminded them about the doubters.
“Play with a chip on your shoulder,” he said.
This philosophy will no doubt remain the refrain of the Dalers throughout their playoff run. As Syosset experienced, they are a team that can explode at any moment. That kind of big run ability can shock an opponent into mistakes.
The style of play required patience and precision, but Farmingdale appears to exude both those qualities. While the Dalers figure to be a one or two seed after the Nassau County meetings on Tuesday, they clearly don’t see themselves as the favorites. At least, not in the minds of others.
Key Stat: Farmingdale hit five 3-pointers.
Who’s Next: Playoffs: Farmingdale vs. TBD, Thursday.
Farmingdale: Ochwat 7-2-20, McPartland 3-2-8, Hadnagy 3-0-7, Meritz 3-0-6, Panariello 2-1-5, Tiernan 2-0-4, Gaghan 1-0-2, Reynolds 1-0-2. Totals: 22-5-54
Syosset: Maturo 5-1-11, Lesse 3-0-9, Savarese 1-4-6, O’Shaughnessy 2-0-5, Ciavarella 1-0-3, Compito 1-0-3. Totals: 13-5-37
Three Pointers: Farmingdale: Ochwat (4), Hadnagy. Syosset: Lesse (3), O’Shaughnessy, Ciavarella, Compito