Warrior Girls’ Basketball Team Reaches County Final

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The Wantagh Girls’ Varsity Basketball team had won 34 straight Conference I games until it was defeated by Garden City, 63-52 at home, February 3.

“The past two years we were undefeated in the conference but were upset in the playoffs,” said senior tri-captain Alex Parlato, who scored 27 points against GC in that game. “So maybe this tough loss will motivate us to not want to feel like this again.”

Parlato turned out to be 100 percent correct. And she led the Warriors to a stunning, comeback 66-62 overtime win over Garden City in the county semifinals. The Warriors trailed by 9 points in the fourth quarter but behind Parlato’s 33-point, 17-rebound effort Wantagh took a lead with four seconds to go, thanks to a pair of Parlato free throws, only have Garden City tie the game by making both ends of one-and-one free throws with seconds left. But the Warriors pulled away in overtime, aided by a pair of Nikki Sliwak three-point shots.

No. 2-seeded Wantagh then took on top-seeded North Shore in the Nassau County final, but dropped a close 50-46 game. The Warriors finished their season with a 19-3 overall record. North Shore defeated Suffolk champ Harborfields 49-47 in the Long Island championship but lost in the state semifinal.

Coach Bujacich, known to students as Mr. B, completed his 22nd season leading the Warriors. His teams have made the playoffs in 21 out of 22 seasons. Parlato, scoring her 1000th point in the win over JFK, will be playing at Fordham a D1 program. Point guard Christina Peden will continue her career next year at Skidmore College. The duo, Parlato and Peden, know when and where to put the ball without even looking; they have this connection not every team has.

“Peden and I are close friends in basketball off the court,” said Parlato, “We are so close that it makes it easy to know each other and see each other on the court.”

The team followed the method of quick offense and tough defense to help gain the win over its competitors. Ironically Wantagh defeated Garden City 61-54, January 13 at Garden City. Garden City is 14-1, with its only loss to Wantagh.

Darcie Smith is a rebound machine who averages about 9 rebounds a game can be very helpful in close game situations. Nikki Sliwak, a guard, is a key shooter on the outside who is also an important passer and playmaker during the game. Kiernan Rathgaber is a great defender; with her making steals and Parlato blocking shots, this Wantagh team is hard to beat. Laura Mallon, Kristina Perez, Hailey Small, Emily Fuchs and Cheyenna Johnson come off of the bench and give the team a lot of depth. “Many of the kids on this team their Wantagh basketball careers at our camp when they were in 5th and 6th grade” said Coach Bujacich.

Also, assistant coach Erin Colton has helped the team this year. Colton played for the Warriors and is an Emmy-winning reporter for News 12. Colton had been the JV coach. This was her first year as a varsity assistant. The girls have found Colton to be very approachable and can give a good perspective as a former Wantagh player.

Two huge wins against top programs were early in the season versus Kellenberg and Cold Spring Harbor. These victories will help Wantagh get a high seed in the playoffs.