Owls Shine Bright on Jimmy V. Day

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The Lynbrook boys’ and girls’ basketball teams took to the LHS gymnasium on Saturday, January 20 to take on Lawrence High School in a set of benefit games to fight against cancer. A t-shirt sale was held during the school in the week leading up the to the games, and a bake sale was held at the game. All money raised is being donated to the Jimmy V. Foundation, which provides millions of dollars towards cancer research each year.

While all four Lynbrook teams won on Saturday, the most exciting game was undoubtedly the boys’ varsity game. The Owls, who are 6-1 in conference play and 11-3 overall, got ahead early, jumping out to a 9-0 lead within the game’s opening minutes. The Owls were able to maintain their lead throughout the first half and into the second half with their relentless defense, which led to steals and easy transition points. However, despite being down 12 points at half, Lawrence never quit. The Golden Tornadoes slowly cut at the Owls lead with an effective full-court press, forcing the Owls into making sloppy turnovers. The Owls lead was eventually cut to a mere two points with just over a minute left, until junior guard Rylan Blondo hit a crucial deep three-pointer with the shot clock winding down, which effectively won the game for Lynbrook. Despite his impressive performance, Blondo, who led the team with 15 points, was able to remain humble about skills. “We keep movin’ forward, it’s all about getting the W,” said Blondo. “Right now, we’re just focused on Floral Park” (the team’s next opponent). Head Coach Jamie Adams feels the same way: “As a team, we focus on winning the day, 1-0 is a really big thing for us.”

With the win, the Owls have now clinched a spot in the playoffs. And while the team is surely ecstatic about this, the players and coaches understand that this day was special for a different reason. “This was a different kind of a gameday. Everyone’s important to us, but we were playing for some other people today,” commented Coach Adams. “Obviously the basketball is a second thing, the most important thing today was this foundation for a really good cause, and we just wanted to get the win for them,” added senior Jon Baltes, who is a team captain, along with Blondo and fellow senior Steven Hendrickson.

After the boys’ game, the girls played. The girls, who were 7-6 heading into the game, knew that this game would be crucial if the team wanted to make the playoffs. Clearly, the Lady Owls understood this, outscoring Lawrence in the first quarter by a score of 27-2. The Lady Owls never looked back, cruising to an easy 66-27 lead, which meant that everyone player was able to get in. The Lady Owls, led by senior Sophia LoCicero, who scored her 1,000th career point earlier this season, are looking to defend the Conference A3 title.

Despite the convincing victory, LoCicero was still adamant that the girls need continue to put their all into practice if they want a shot a defending their title. “We need to find our identity. This is a different team from last year. Last year, we had [former Lady Owl forward Kerrin] Montgomery. We don’t have her anymore. We need to play with more consistency if we want a chance to make a run through the playoffs again.” The Lady Owls, who feature three starters who are not seniors, have not won or lost more than two games in a row so far this season. Hopefully, the play of underclassmen such as sophomore Kayleigh Stalter, junior Kerin Bartels, and freshman Camila Bahri can spur the Lady Owls to a successful finish to the season and a return to the playoffs.

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