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March 10, 2013Tweet
UNIONDALE, NY - Saturday night was Long Island's big night. The night where at Hofstra, champions are crowned. The Class "AA" and "A" Long Island championships were held with each winner advancing to next weekend's New York State Semifinals up in Glens Falls.
That plus the right to say they are champions of Long Island made these games huge, and in front of a packed house, both games did not disappoint.
Northport edges Baldwin, 43-40
When you think of Northport basketball, you don't think of a powerhouse. In fact, the Tigers haven't even made the Suffolk playoffs since 2006. But things this year were different. Luke Petrasek developed in a superstar big man. Mike Milligan transferred in to be a dangerous weapon on the wing, and Matt Smith became a tough and gritty PG that every team craves. The hard work they put in culminated in a Long Island "AA" title as they defeated Baldwin in a hard fought game that wasn't decided until the closing seconds, 43-40.
The game got off to a very tough start. Baldwin forward Jordan Williams went down 1:40 into the game driving towards the basket. He went up and seemed to come down awkwardly. It was a tough blow for the Bruins who needed Williams's defensive presence inside. Baldwin coach Darius Burton knew that it would be rough without him.
"We lost a double double guy who does a lot for us. To lose him was a big blow." Burton said.
It was a blow, but Baldwin continued to play well without his services. The played solid defense and stayed tight. Petrasek did manage to do damage early on though a scoring 6 points on the 1st attacking the basket and showing he could put the ball on the floor. Northport led 14-11 after 1 but it was far from over.
Baldwin wasn't scared of attacking the basket in the 2nd. They weren't always successful, and Petrasek was a presence for sure, but the Bruins were undeterred. Guard Miking Richardson hit on a three to tie the game to start the period, and they limited Petrasek's touches, switching to a zone defense and challenging the Northport shooters. They struggled from the perimeter and Baldwin took a 24-22 lead into the break.
It was a back and forth 3rd with Milligan looking more aggressive getting to the basket, and Andrew Seaman stepping up with a couple of important buckets. Travais Hylton, the Nassau title game star, came alive for the Bruins late in the 3rd hitting a couple of big threes from the wing, but Petrasek was able to do damage in the paint and capitalize from the charity stripe to help Northport take a 3 point lead into the 4th.
Most of the 4th was not kind to the Tigers though. After Smith hit 2 FT's with 7 minutes to go in the game. They went ice cold going 6 minutes without scoring and seeing Baldwin go by them and take a 40-38 lead with 2 minutes to play, but that's where senior leadership took over according to Northport coach Andrew D'Eloia.
"We've been in close game all year long so I don't think anyone panicked and started to worry at that point. We knew we close out games well and stayed confident." D'Eloia said.
The confidence showed as after a timeout Smith found Milligan in the paint, and he spun left and connected at the rim while getting fouled with 49 seconds left. The pro-Northport crowd exploded, and after he sank the FT, the Tigers were up 41-40. Baldwin looked to push but with nothing there they called a timeout with 32 seconds to go down 1.
On the ensuing inbounds, the Baldwin pass to the backcourt was stolen by Austin Marchese. The senior read the pass and was able to pick it off. He was soon fouled and went to the foul line for a 1 and 1. The senior calmed connected on both to give Northport the 43-40 lead. Baldwin would call timeout with 19 seconds to go to set up the final play.
The inbounds came to Hylton who looked to get free to the left, but with nothing there he came back, pumped and got a nice looking straightaway three off, but the shot hit left iron, and Petrasek corralled the rebound and threw the ball in the air as time expired as Northport brought home the Long Island title in dramatic fashion 43-40.
Petrasek led all scorers with 14 points for Northport, while also grabbing 12 rebounds. Milligan who had the biggest bucket of the game added 13. Baldwin was paced by Hylton's 8 points, with 6'3" shot blocker Eric Mack adding 5 points, 8 rebounds and 6 blocks.
The play of the game was the biggest basket of Milligan's career he said. He also admitted he didn't believe he was going to be fouled. But glad he was. The feeling of joy and accomplishment almost left the 6'5" senior speechless.
"It's such an amazing feeling. Northport has gone so long without a title and to win it for them and be able to accomplish what we did. It's incredible. It's so great." Milligan said.
Defense really proved key though with the Tigers holding Baldwin to just 40 points, something Petrasek felt was critical.
"We always talk about holding our opponents to under 45 points. Coach really emphasizes that, and we accomplished that today which really was key for us to win." Petrasek said.
The feeling on the other side of sorrow and heartbreak was evident from Baldwin. Coach Burton only could ponder the question of what if.
"This one hurts a lot because we will never know what would've happened had Jordan played. It will always be a 'what if' in our minds, and that's going to make it sting even more." Burton said.
A tough loss and break for Baldwin, but the Tigers from Northport did truly deserve this one on the way they played defense and executed late. It's off to Glens Falls now for Northport as they will play the New Rochelle/Kingston winner in the State "AA" Semifinals on Friday, and D'Eloia used that game as motivation in the end.
"Hey, I said if we win today we get a get off of school. Maybe that pushed us through the end." the happy coach said with a smile.
Whatever it was, Northport has broken the drought and are now Long Island champs.
Amityville takes down Jericho, 64-52
Amityville prepared all year for this moment. They had the goal and belief that they could win the Long Island Class "A" championship. After being turned away by Harborfields the past couple years in the Suffolk Class "A" title game, they finally overcame that hump this season and faced Jericho Saturday evening for the right to go upstate and be LI champs. Behind the suffocating defense and the 16 points of Kavione Green, the Warriors were victorious over the Jayhawks 64-52.
It was a tight first quarter that saw both teams struggle to finish on the inside, with Jericho missing 6 easy ones on the inside, struggling against the size of Amityville 6'9 senior center Zack Tannis who altered and blocked much of which came his way.
The Warriors opened up the game in the 2nd with Mike Alston pushing the pace and creating in transition. The defense of Amityville also stepped up, holding off Jericho star wingman to just 2 first half points, something that according to Amityville coach Jack Agostino was the plan.
"We said going in we wanted to trap and switch a lot on Johnson and give him different looks and throw him off his game and I think we did a good job on that." Agostino said.
Amityville finished the half on a 12-2 run to break open a tight game and take a 35-22 lead at the break.
The 3rd started with Green and Travis Dickerson each nailing threes from the wing as Amityville saw its lead grow to as much as 19 in the quarter. Johnson, who struggled for much of the game, came to life late in the 3rd as Long Island's leading three point shooter had 6 points to close the quarter, and the Amityville lead was closed to 49-36 after 3.
Jericho was able to get the game to 9 on a couple occasions midway through the 4th, but Alston's precision passing, and Green's ability to finish in transition helped the Warriors go on an 8-0 run late in the 4th that all but ended Jericho's hopes. Johnson, was subbed out to a standing ovation with a minute to go for the Jayhawks, and Amityville were crowned Class "A" Long Island champions over Jericho 64-52.
It was Green's 16 points along with 10 rebounds that paced Amityville in the win, with Laurent adding 12, and Tannis proving to be a defensive force with 8 rebounds and 6 blocks.
For Jericho, Johnson was high man with 15 points, 13 of which came in the 2nd half, and David Orr, who chipped in with 13.
It was a wait for Green to get the Long Island championship, but it's a moment he says he will never forget.
"This is the most amazing feeling of my basketball career. We came up against a great team but were able to get it done. Unbelievable. I'm just so happy." the senior captain said.
Agostino, who lost to his brother Chris Agostino and Harborfields on the Suffolk "A" championship the past couple years was finally able to not just reclaim Suffolk, but a Long Island title as well, and though he was happy, he still reminded everyone that the game wasn't perfect.
"We gave up 52 points so they'll have to pay the consequences for that in practice but overall I'm very very happy for these guys." Agostino said.
Amityville now advances to the New York Class "A" State Semifinals on Friday where they will be challenged by Section IX champion Burke Catholic in what should be a fantastic back and forth contest.
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