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'Instant Classic' sees Wheatley advance to Class B Final

Josh Hyon admitted he was more mentally exhausted than physically exhausted late in Wheatley’s Nassau Class B semifinal game.

Yet it didn’t prevent him from making the biggest basket in the second-seeded Wildcats’ 72-68 victory over No. 3 East Rockaway Saturday at LIU Post.

Hyon’s putback off his own miss was the winning field goal in the third overtime that gave Wheatley (11-7) a 70-68 lead with two minutes remaining.

“I just tried to give it my all for that last play,” said Hyon, who scored eight of his 13 points in the second and third overtime quarters. “At the end, in the last timeout, we said that we had come too far not be able to get it done. We worked extremely hard for this.”

Hats off to both teams for getting as far as it did, Wheatley coach Jim Curcio said, for the right to play top-seeded Malverne in the county final at 1 p.m. Friday at LIU Post.

Curcio, in his 26th season, had never coached in such a game that had gone so late.

“You couldn’t ask any player on either team to give any more than they gave,” Curcio said. “It’s a shame someone had to come out on the losing end. It was two teams that really gave it all they had.”

East Rockaway 25th year coach Joe Lores knew it would be close after the two team’s split in the regular season. He just wasn’t expecting it to be an “instant classic.”

“I told our guys right after that they played like ‘Rocks’ because they showed a lot of guts in battling back,” said Lores, who saw Kevin Blessington have the “best game of his career” in a 25-point, 18-rebound performance. “The key to our success in the game was that defensively, we held them to 18 second half points.”

Dominick DeRosa’s 3-pointer for East Rockaway (7-11) came with 24 seconds remaining to tie the score at 55 and send the game into overtime.

Then, it was teammate Damian Amiruddin’s turn. His free throw with seven seconds remaining in the first overtime tied the score at 58.

Blessington made sure there was a third overtime when his three-point play the old fashioned way tied the score at 62.

“From the start, we could tell it was going to be a tough game because they were making their shots, right down to the wire,” said Hyon, who went 4-of-6 from the free throw line in the second and third overtimes, including one late to seal it. “I felt both teams really wanted the game badly.”

Andrew Tripi had a team-high 24 points and Kevin Martins scored five of his 17 points in the overtime quarters for Wheatley. DeRosa and Daniel Fusco each had 15 points for East Rockaway.

Tags: High School Boys Basketball , Wheatley , East Rockaway , Nassau Class B Semifinal , Josh Hyon , Jim Curcio , Joe Lores , Kevin Blessington , Dominick DeRosa , Damian Amiruddin , Andrew Tripi , Daniel Fusco , Kevin Martins

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