Aaron Cust dominates fourth quarter as Uniondale stuns Farmingdale

Uniondale's Aaron Cust drives past Farmingdale's Navreet Dhaliwal Uniondale's Aaron Cust drives past Farmingdale's Navreet Dhaliwal in the Nassau Class AA boys basketball semifinals. (Feb. 26, 2013) Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

advertisement | advertise on newsday

When Uniondale's season began, their one sure thing was Aaron Cust.

"He was our only returning starter," coach Tom Diana said. "Our only player with any experience, really."

When Uniondale's season seemed at its end Tuesday night, their sure thing showed there's no such thing as a sure loss.

Cust scored 15 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter, including a floater off the glass with 20 seconds left to take a one-point lead, as No. 6 Uniondale erased a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to upset No. 2 Farmingdale, 67-65, in the Nassau Class AA semifinals at SUNY Old Westbury.

"When I got the ball, I knew the whole team was going to key in on me," Cust said of his go-ahead shot. "I just had to attack the basket."

When Navreet Dhaliwal's layup gave Farmingdale a 59-49 lead with 4:05 remaining, it seemed the Dalers were minutes from the county title game. But Uniondale switched to a full-court press that Farmingdale struggled to break.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

After Alan McDonald converted a layup for Uniondale to make it 62-55, the Knights forced a turnover at midcourt and Cust, who went 11-for-11 from the foul line in the fourth, hit three free throws after being fouled on a three-point shot to pull Uniondale within four.

After Jaaz Styles hit a jumper with a hand in his face to cut the deficit to 65-62 with one minute left, McDonald tipped away a pass at midcourt and raced in for the one-handed slam to make it a one-point game.

Uniondale then forced Farmingdale into another turnover along the sideline, setting the stage for Cust's game-winning drive.

"Every single day, we practice like that defensively," said Styles, who had 12 points. "Leaving the huddle, our last word is 'finish,' and that's what we just did."

Dalique Mingo led Farmingdale (14-4) with 17 points and Curtis Jenkins added 15.

Uniondale (12-7) faces defending champion Baldwin in a rematch of last season's county championship game at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at Hofstra.

"I knew we were going to pull it out," Cust said. "That's what Uniondale does. We have heart and we never quit."

That's a sure thing.

You also may be interested in: