The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

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The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

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The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

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No. 1 Lynbrook Falls Just Short of Conference Finals in 2024 Playoffs

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Sean Strohofer
Benedict gears up for a shot.

After losing to No. 2 Manhasset in last year’s Class A final, the girls’ basketball team saw a lot of changes. First was the retirement of 2023 Conference A Coach of the Year and 32-year LHS employee Stephen LoCicero, who played a key role in the girls’ success over the years. Along with the graduation of the Class of 2023, which featured three award-winning seniors, the Owls would head into the 2024 season with a new look.

 Assistant coach Koren Pena filled in for LoCicero seamlessly, seeing immediate success in her first year as head coach. Leading the team to a 16-3 record (boosted by a stellar 10-2 record in league play with both losses coming against No. 6 Plainedge), which was good enough for the No. 1 seed in Conference A-1, Pena would look to help this success carry over deep into the playoffs following the first-round bye.

On the other hand, the Owls would need key contributions from the remaining cast of players to get back to the final. With a small senior class, the junior class would make up most of the roster, allowing them to help carry most of the load for the 2024 season. However, that does not mean the whole team did not contribute, as several players brought home their pieces of hardware, with four out of the five recipients coming from the class of 2025.

Both of these factors came together for the success that Lynbrook saw throughout the season, which led up to the playoffs. No. 8 Island Trees would beat No. 9 Locust Valley to advance and set up a date with Lynbrook at The Barn. 

D’Ambrosio makes a quick pass.

Ahead of the playoff matchup, junior Cate Jennings was ready to start the team’s playoff push towards the final. “I believe in this team with everything in me. We have gotten so close in the past, and I feel if we continue to work hard and push each other like we’ve been doing all season, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be successful,” Jennings said. Senior Mikayla D’Ambrosio said the team would put in “110 percent” to give themselves the best shot to advance to the semifinal. “We’ll be hitting the practice court even harder. It’s all about staying focused, working together, and giving it our all so we’re ready to bring our A-game come tip-off,” she said.

 Ready would be an understatement, as Lynbrook came out of the gate blazing hot, finishing the first quarter up 21 while allowing only four points to the opposition. The rest of the game would be no different, as Coach Pena would show no mercy for her alma mater, with the blowout coming to an end, 68-23.

 Junior Kaitlyn Benedict’s performance especially stood out, leading the team by scoring 24 points and 8 assists. However, the way she scored these 24 points would end up being record-breaking, as her yearlong pursuit of the most three points made in a Lynbrook game would end when they needed her most.

 Coach Pena was one of, if not, Benedict’s biggest fans throughout her journey towards the record. “She and I had a conversation at the end of last year when she tied it, and I told her that she would break the record within the next two years. Yesterday, she had one of the best practices in terms of her shooting, and I just felt like this was going to be the game,” Pena said. Exploiting the zone defense that Island Trees deployed, it was the perfect game for Benedict to break the record, which is exactly what happened as she sunk her eighth and final three.

 Next up was a semifinal matchup against No. 4 Wantagh. In the regular season, Lynbrook would win both of their matchups, with the latest game having one of the more dramatic finishes to cap off the regular season.

Onlookers cheer from the sidelines.

However, anything can happen in the playoffs. The Owls would score the least number of points in this semifinal matchup than any other game this season with 28 points, and poor starts to each half did not help their case. Lynbrook would fall at the hands of the Warriors, 37-28. Jennings and Vuotto would be the only Owls to score double digits in the season-ending loss, as Lynbrook will have a year to regroup and make another run.

An unusual outcome considering the quality of the team, the Owls will now see three seniors from this year’s lineup leave in June. Along with how large junior representation was this year, the team has put themselves in the best position to finally get over that hump and become 2025 Class-A Champions.

 

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About the Contributor
Sean Strohofer, Managing Editor
My name is Sean, and I am a member of the Class of 2025. I have a deep desire for sports and writing, so you might see me at sports events around town!