Carl O'Brien is used to hearing his name chanted while he's shooting free throws during a home game. But what about as a visitor with his team ahead by one point with less than one minute left?
"Now that was a little weird,'' O'Brien said. "It's hard when everyone somehow knows your name and I have no idea who they are. I was never put in a situation like that before.''
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Despite the oddness, O'Brien delivered. He nailed two free throws with 37 seconds left to give Bethpage a three-point lead, which held up in a 34-31 win over North Shore Thursday night in a Nassau Conference A-III game.
Bethpage's 2-3 zone prevented North Shore (4-3) from attempting a good-looking shot on the final possession.
There were three lead changes, and neither team led by more than six.
The final lead change occurred when Greg Gerber, who had 11 points, put Bethpage up 32-31 with a layup. Gerber, the team's leading scorer, was limited in the second half because of foul trouble. He re-entered with about two minutes left and immediately made an impact by grabbing a rebound and making the layup seconds later.
"You have to do whatever it takes to win a game,'' Gerber said.
North Shore's Nick Hartman, who had 14 points, subscribed to that way of thinking, too. He made four three-pointers, including one that put the Vikings ahead 31-29 with four minutes left.
Deniz Soybas started the final 5-0 run for Bethpage (5-2) when he made one free throw. O'Brien (10 points, 11 rebounds) scored six points in the fourth quarter, mostly by driving to the basket and drawing fouls.
"It was kind of an ugly, intense game with a lot of fouls, and it was a war on the boards,'' O'Brien said. "I tried shooting the three early but it wasn't falling, so I drove and that's what won us the game."
The score was tied at 13 at the half because of both teams' relentless defense. North Shore utilized a high 2-3 zone with 6-3 forward Jackson Rieger clogging the middle. Rieger grabbed seven rebounds and had three blocks despite being plagued by foul trouble.
Bethpage coach Jack Davenport knew before the game that Rieger would present a tough matchup.
"That kid has been playing out of his mind,'' Davenport said. "Every time we play, the goal is to stop him.''
Bethpage defeated North Shore earlier this season by three points. Thursday night's win halted a two-game losing skid.
"It was a definite confidence booster for us,'' O'Brien said. "I, 100 percent, heard that crowd during those free throws. I just did my same routine and it worked.''