North Shore ups conference win streak


Many other coaches would’ve left point guard Kylee Colbert in the game to see if the senior could make North Shore history. Colbert was closing in on the school’s first-ever quadruple-double last Friday against Island Trees.  

Not Keith Freund, the Vikings girls' basketball head coach. Freund is vying for a Nassau County Class A championship – not a majestic individual stat line. 

Two minutes into the third quarter and North Shore routing Island Trees 48-11, the coached pulled Colbert from the game, leaving her with a final line of 9 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds and 7 steals. 

“She didn’t know, but she’s not the type of kid that if I told her, it wouldn’t effect her,’’ Freund said. “She cares about winning. It wasn’t important to her."

“I don’t look at my stats,’’ Colbert added. "“I wasn’t thinking about it. I just have fun. The team enjoys each other’s company on the court.’’

That is North Shore in a nutshell. The Vikings went on to post a 65-38 whitewash of previously unbeaten Island Trees to move the Vikings’ record to 12-2 – 5-0 in Conference A5. 

North Shore, the defending conference champions, now has a 17-game conference winning streak. It is weaving a spectacular encore after last season’s 12-0 conference mark buoyed by a 12-person rotation and balanced attack. 

But this group seeks more than the 2022-23 team that got upset by eventual county champion Plainedge in the quarterfinals. 

 “This team has a chance to be Long Island champions if they keep playing this well,’’ Freund said. “We have everything we need to be county champs. We just have to perform.’’

Freund repeatedly talks about having no stars, citing no one averaging more than 13 points, partly due to everyone sharing minutes - and the ball.

“The best part of team is we haven’t had a superstar,’’ said Freund, in his 17th season. “We have roles and it’s a very balanced team.’’

 However, junior Emma Priolo is doing a good impersonation of a constellation. Priolo has lit up Sea Cliff/Glen Head from the 3-point stripe. She already has bagged 43 3-pointers, breaking last season’s total of 30. She’s shooting 34 percent from deep – better than many NBA players – and is averaging 13.6 points.

“She’s shooting at an unbelievable clip,’’ Freund said. “This team doesn’t look for Emma. They just move the ball so well and find the open player. It’s our biggest strength offensively. The ball is constantly moving.’’

Credit that partially to Colbert, who was switched from off guard to point guard this season and has set the unselfish tone. Colbert, who received a Division I scholarship to Boston College for lacrosse, has scored 2 points in some games but posted double-digit assists. (She’s averaging 7.6 and 6.5 assists).

“Nobody cares who scores,’’ Colbert said. “We’re having fun, passing the ball around and whoever shoots, shoots.’’

The contributors are coming from all corners as the Maroon and White score 60 points per game. Junior Keira Pombar is averaging 9.1 points as the second-leading scorer. Sophomore Sofia Della Ratta, (6.7), senior Ava Bartoli (5.9), junior Hailey Ayres (4.4) and junior Hannah Gilliam (4). 

This squad is rekindling memories of the North Shore girls from 2012-2015 that won three county titles and a Long Island crown. 

“We’re working really hard at practice and we bring that same energy when we go to a game,’’ Colbert said. “We have such a higher energy than the other teams we play. If we keep up the effort in practice we can go much farther than last year.’’