Perfection is an elusive dream. But you don’t need to be perfect to attain greatness.
Just ask girls basketball . Northport has won 10 Suffolk Class A and AA titles, including dynastic runs from 1989-94 and 2004-06. The Tigers won Long Island championships in 86, 91, 92, 94 and 2004.
Few programs have enjoyed the success Castellano, 59, and the Tigers have seen. Yet Northport has never posted a perfect season.
There’s still plenty of basketball left this season, but Northport is off to an impressive 13-0 start (9-0 League II) in Castellano’s 32nd season at the helm. That includes an over Half Hollow Hills East on Monday.
“It’s nice to be undefeated but it’s not the most important thing,” Castellano said
Still, Castellano has seen this before. The Tigers started off 26-0 in 1991, riding the momentum all the way to the state Class A title game. Then John Jay won, 71-51. Northport returned to the state Final Four the following season, finishing 23-1 in 1992 after falling to John Jay in the semis. Northport (20-2) fell to eventual state champ Lockport, 52-51, in the 1994 state semifinal game.
With five senior leaders, Northport is ranked ninth in the latest New York State Sportswriters Class AA poll and one of six unbeaten AA teams remaining in the state.
The big thing is avoiding the pitfalls of an early playoff exit. The Tigers lost in the Suffolk quarterfinals a year ago.
“We don’t want any sudden stops,” Castellano said. “It’s finality. It’s done. You’re playing. You expect to win. And then you lose and now the season is over. That’s driving the kids this season. They don’t want to end that way.”
If history is any indication, Northport could be playing deep into March. That would be a perfect ending to an already special season.
Heard in the Halls
It’s a super Saturday for wrestling. League championships will be contested and winners crowed throughout Suffolk.
, unbeaten in League VI, travels to second-place Mount Sinai. can vie for a League V title at Kings Park. Whitman and Northport are at the bottom of the League II standings, but anything is possible. Lindenhurst hosts the tournament. Weigh-ins at 8 a.m. Semifinal bouts begin at 2 p.m. with the finals slated for 6 p.m.
Glenn (12-2), ranked fifth in the NYSSWA Large Schools poll, features a formidable lineup with James Dekrone (130), Kevin Meinsen (135), Kevin Massa (189) and Joe Giaramita (215).
With Nigel McNeil (125) earning one first-period pin after another, Huntington has a shot.
The Suffolk Division I and II wrestling championships are Feb. 13-14 at Stony Brook University.
Not to be overshadowed, the Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA wrestling tournament is Sunday at Kellenberg. The state CHSAA Tournament is Feb. 12 at Chaminade. (13-1), third in the state poll, is the defending Catholic champ and the heavy favorite to repeat. Grant Greene (125), Jimmy Morris (130), Jamel Hudson (135), Paul Alessandrini (189) and Jon Desir (275) each have championship ambitions for the Friars.
Feat of the Week
The Huntington School Board approved several coaches for the upcoming spring season, including three veterans: Gregory Kalkau (baseball), Jamie Fishlow (boys tennis) and Debra Cheskes (girls track). Fishlow, a Blue Devils tennis coach for 20 years, is an intriguing figure because he’s an Ironman athlete and a USA Triathlon-certified coach. Talk about staying power.
Game of the Week
On the heels of the Glee-like success of , St. Anthony’s will follow up with an even more garish theme for Friday’s 7:30 p.m. home game against Kellenberg. That’s right, break out your Magnum P.I. moustaches. It’s Hawaiian Shirt Night. Oh by the way, this one is for fourth place in the Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA standings. Kellenberg won the last meeting, 80-72, in an unusually high-scoring game on Jan. 4.