The Blue Devil girls’ basketball team honored its five sensational seniors during a touching pre-game ceremony last Saturday, but Smithtown East upset Huntington’s splendid afternoon, winning the final regular season game, 44-39.
The Blue Devils recognized the contributions of seniors Emma Petrizzi, Anna Gulizio, Torre Palmer, Tara Wilson and Shannon Maloney. Head coach Michael Kaplan spoke about each of the teenagers, telling the crowd what they meant to the team over their playing careers and their role in Huntington’s success.
One by one the teenagers stood on the court and presented their parents with a bouquet of flowers when they came down out of the bleachers and joined their respective daughter before Kaplan spoke. Underclassmen made posters celebrating the personalities and careers of the seniors and affixed them to the walls on both ends of the court.
“These five kids gave us everything they had,” Kaplan said. “We appreciate their efforts on and off the court. It’s been a pleasure to be their coach. We will always remember them and they will always be a part of our Blue Devil basketball family.”
When Kaplan had finished, a group of underclassmen took the microphone and addressed each of the seniors directly. It was a touching moment in time. The ceremony wrapped up with a series of photos being taken with players, coaches and parents.
In a show of good sportsmanship, Smithtown East’s players and coaches sat on their bench during the ceremony and applauded for each of the seniors. “It was really classy of them to do that,” Kaplan said.
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Huntington jumped out to a 15-12 first quarter lead and was ahead at halftime, 20-18. But while the Blue Devil defense was once again strong, the offense struggled to score, just like it has for most of the winter.
The Bulls took a 26-25 lead by the end of the third quarter and kept their advantage in the final frame by outscoring Huntington, 18-14 over the final eight minutes.
Smithtown East (8-6 league; 8-12 overall) proved to be a tough foe for the Blue Devils, who dropped home and away games to the Bulls this season. “We really don’t have any excuses,” Kaplan said. “They outplayed us and hit their shots when they needed to. It’s definitely a tough loss to take, but all we can do now is look ahead.”
Huntington (10-4 league, 14-6 overall) was led by Gulizio’s 11 points. Alexandra Heuwetter had 10 points and Katie Seccafico added nine points. Wilson scored five points and Petrizzi and Maloney had two points each.
Section XI will release the post-season bracket on Tuesday morning. Huntington expects to play either Thursday or Friday. Kaplan is hoping for a home game.