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Smithtown East basketball gets off to 3-0 league start

Patrick Riccio dribbles the around the court as he looks to make a pass. Photo by Desiree Keegan
December 23, 2013 | 11:59 AM
Right from tip-off the Smithtown East Bulls boys basketball team began racking up the points, jumping out to an early lead and never letting up en route to a 65-35 win over the West Islip Lions last Thursday night.

The Bulls opened the game by scoring 10 unanswered points, including back-to-back 3-pointers by junior forward Brian Willetts and senior guard Alex Spinelli.

But when Bulls junior forward Dom Savino fouled West Islip's Billy Hellem, Hellem followed up a free throw with a layup to puts his team's first points on the board.

Smithtown East junior power forward Ryan Ingarozza added a layup and the Bulls took a 12-3 lead to end the first quarter.

Smithtown East senior shooting guard Patrick Riccio opened up the second quarter with a 3-pointer, which was followed by another Ingarozza layup, forcing West Islip to call its second timeout of the game. Ingarozza added back-to-back field goals for another four points.

The Bulls' strong defense forced several West Islip turnovers, and the Lions were only able to add 6 more points to their total to end the half, with the Bulls leading 29-9.

Ingarozza caught fire and opened the third quarter with another field goal for 2 points. He added a layup and a 3-pointer as well, and Riccio scored a 3-pointer of his own to help put the Bulls up 45-20 at the end of the third.

Ingarozza passed the torch to senior guard Casey Savino, who sank two free throws from the line and three field goals in the fourth, and sophomore forward Kevin Keese scored three field goals of his own.

West Islip picked up the pace throughout the game, sinking 15 points in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Bulls. The teams finished at 65-35.

Ryan Ingarozza reaches up toward the basket for a layup for 2 points. Photo by Desiree Keegan
"It was just what we needed as a team," Riccio said of the win. "We're starting the season off well — every game has been close so far, so this was a good win for us and it's what we needed to get us going."

West Islip head coach Tom Cross was not pleased with his team's performance.

"We had a very difficult time distributing the ball, passing the ball, dribbling the ball — we're just not a good passing team and we saw that tonight," Cross said.

The Bulls were on the ball with steals and rebounds throughout the night, with West Islip losing possession over and over and unable to catch rebounds for second-chance opportunities.

Ingarozza, who scored 21 points on the evening, recorded 10 steals and three rebounds alone in the team's third straight League III win.

"I think we played really well as a team," Ingarozza said. "We played really good defense."

Riccio said he also thought the Bulls defense toughened up, adding that it's one of the team's priorities.

Ingarozza said the team could have done better guarding in the paint, as some of West Islip's taller players were able to make layups and catch a few rebounds. He added that his team needs to be more aggressive, but did well playing their roles.

"We worked the ball and got everyone involved, and when everyone gets touches and we show we're unselfish and play as a team, we're showing what we can do this year," Ingarozza said. "We're starting to group together and our chemistry is getting a lot better every game, so if we keep that up we can make a run for this league title."

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