Canes make big statement in big tourney

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The Westhampton Beach wrestling team attended the West Islip Dual Meet Tournament on Saturday in the hopes of proving it could hang with the top teams in Suffolk County.

Instead, what the Hurricanes did was prove that they are one of the best teams in the county.

The Canes recorded upsets against two powerhouse teams to claim the championship in the eight-team meet, beating Islip 34-25 in the semifinal meet before knocking off West Babylon 32-30 in the final. Both Islip and West Babylon were ranked in the top 10 in Suffolk County, while Islip has one of the richest wrestling traditions in New York State.

“It was a breakthrough day for our program,” Westhampton Beach head coach Paul Bass said.

Prior to winning the competitive dual meet, the Hurricanes opened their League VI schedule with a 37-23 home win over Amityville on January 7. On Thursday, Westhampton Beach squared off against Hampton Bays (League VII) in a non-league dual meet at home, winning 62-3. It was the only match of the week for the Baymen, who are 0-4 after a series of tough non-league meets against Division I teams. Hampton Bays was slated to begin the League VII season at Port Jefferson on Tuesday and will host Southampton on Friday at 4 p.m.

West Islip Duals

The Hurricanes started off the day with dominant victories before pulling off nailbiting upsets in the final two meets of the tournament on their way to the win. Westhampton Beach got past Eastport South Manor 57-14 before beating West Babylon’s B squad 72-0.

Sophomore Conner Bass (103 pounds) and junior Pete DeTore (112) came up big for Westhampton Beach in the final, propelling their team to the victory with dominant wins in the final two matches of the meet. Down 30-22 heading into those final two bouts, the Canes needed big performances from the All-County standouts and they delivered. Bass won by pin in 4:37 to trim the deficit to 30-28 and DeTore won by major decision, getting past his opponent 12-1 to provide the final margin.

Bass said that while he felt good about having the match resting in the hands of two of his most capable wrestlers, he wasn’t overconfident due to the fact that West Babylon has significant talent in those weight classes as well.

“I felt that our kids were better, but 10 points is a lot to get in two matches,” he said. “But those two came up big.”

Several other strong performances throughout the match set Westhampton Beach up for the win. Starting at 119 pounds, Zach Bass got the first win, earning a pin in 4:29. Cory Hubbard (125) followed with an 11-0 major decision to give the Canes a 10-0 lead before Danny Maddock (130) suffered a 16-5 major decision loss. West Babylon tied the match after Brian Lagoumis was pinned in 3:26, but Brian Higgins (140) gave the lead back to the Canes at 13-10 after winning a 14-8 decision.

The lead swung back to West Babylon after Marco Pizzo lost a 10-2 major decision, putting the Eagles ahead 14-13. Matt Mazarakis came up with a 2-1 win at 152 pounds and Brian Kobus (160) earned a pin in 2:34, giving the Canes a 22-14 lead, but after Bobby Garone (171) lost by major decision, 9-1 and Westhampton Beach forfeited at both 189 and 215 pounds, West Babylon was back in front, 30-22.

Bass chose to forfeit at 189 and 215 because he didn’t want his less experienced wrestlers in those weight classes to have to grapple with what were two very strong West Babylon grapplers in those categories. Despite giving up 12 points due to the pair of forfeits, the Canes were able to weather the storm, thanks to the efforts of the rest of the team.

“They stepped up and that’s what I was most proud of,” Bass said. “The kids felt some pressure and they responded unbelievably.”

In the semifinal win over Islip, the Canes took a commanding 24-0 lead after starting at 112 pounds and the Buccaneers could not recover. DeTore won with a pin in 3:30, Zach Bass won a 5-4 decision, Hubbard won by forfeit, Danny Maddock won with a pin in 2:30 and Lagoumis won a 6-4 decision to stake the team to its dominant lead. Islip won the next three matches, with Higgins suffering an 11-2 loss, Scott Carey losing 3-2 and Mazarakis falling 9-5 before Kobus came up with a 16-7 win. At 171 pounds, Garone lost 5-0 and Brian Moore was pinned at 189 pounds in 1:03. The Canes forfeited at 215, trimming their lead to just 28-25, but Islip forfeited at 103 pounds, choosing to save an inexperienced wrestler the trouble of facing Conner Bass, who is ranked in the top five in the county.

“One of the reasons we were able to beat them was matchups,” Bass said. “They’re good down below and we were able to jump out to a huge lead on them. We were able to take them out of the match early.”

In the wins over ESM and the West Babylon B team, the Canes scored 11 pins and only dropped three individual matches. Westhampton Beach wrestlers were pinned on only three occasions for the entire day, which Bass said was a key factor in earning the win.

“That’s how you win dual meets,” he said.

Bass added that winning the tournament was definitely on his short list of standout moments in his nearly three decades of coaching.

“This was definitely up there,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of great days, but I think this was so enjoyable because I didn’t see it coming. I’m always downplaying us because we don’t have a heavyweight. But the kids really came together.”

First League Win

The Hurricanes did not have their best day as a team, but still managed to get the win in their first League VI meet of the season, scoring a 37-23 win over Amityville. Andrew Capuano (96), Conner Bass, Zach Bass and Brian Kobus all won by pins while Pete DeTore, Higgins, Carey and Garone won by decision. Hubbard suffered a 17-9 loss, Maddock was pinned in 3:56 and Lagoumis suffered a 9-2 loss. Pizzo hung tough in a 16-4 loss to Jermaine Jacobs, who is ranked third in the county in his weight class. Mazarakis suffered a 9-3 loss and Moore was downed 3-0.

“I was very upset; it should’ve never been that close,” Bass said of the match, adding that his team’s win in its home dual meet tournament on January 3 may have led to some overconfidence.

“After having a great tournament, I think they let down a bit,” he said. “Amityville brought it, they had all their top guns in there and where they’re good, they’re very good, but they do have some holes.

Bass credited Garone’s 6-4 overtime win at 171 pounds as the turning point in the match.

“They were expecting six points there,” Bass said. “He wrestled great.”

Win Over Baymen

Bass said he was expecting the matchup between his team and Hampton Bays to be closer, as the Baymen have several talented individuals despite not having as much depth as the Hurricanes. Tim Jordan (135) earned the only win for Hampton Bays, defeating Lagoumis 11-6. Capuano, DeTore, Zach Bass, Maddock, Kobus and James Cush (189) all won with pins while Hubbard won by technical fall. Higgins defeated Dylan Flynn 5-2 while Carey defeated Oskar Ramirez 18-3. Mazarakis earned a 6-0 win over Billy Altman, who suffered a shoulder injury but remained in the match. Garone won a 5-2 decision against Ben Tarpey and Moore defeated Brendan Fox 6-3.

Hampton Bays forfeited at 103 pounds.

“It was kind of our night,” Bass said. “For whatever reason, they looked a little flat.”

After the big win at the West Islip Duals, the Canes were ready to embark on what Bass called “hell week,” with two tough league opponents on the slate before a challenging tournament. The Canes were scheduled to host Mt. Sinai on Wednesday and will visit Elwood/John Glenn on Friday for a 5:30 p.m. match. Bass said he believes Glenn is the best team in the state.

On Saturday, the Canes will participate in the Kujan Tournament at William Floyd High School. Powerhouse programs such as Wantagh, Plainedge, Ward Melville, Connetquot and Floyd will be in attendance. The tournament will also give both DeTore and Conner Bass a chance to avenge losses to a pair of fellow All-County foes. DeTore will get another shot at Dan Gray of Ward Melville, who like DeTore is ranked in the top five in the county while Bass will square off against Sean McCabe of Connetquot.

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