Curtis Jenkins' 14 points, 10 rebounds lead Farmingdale to Nassau AA title
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This one wasn't in the playbook. But it sure had a silver lining.
Curtis Jenkins hit an improvised tiebreaking three-pointer with 2:11 left that put Farmingdale ahead to stay as the Dalers beat Uniondale, 38-35, in a tense, fierce Nassau Class AA championship game played before more than 1,500 fans Saturday at Adelphi.
"It was priceless," coach Jim Pastier said of the shot, but he would've used a different one if it had been a brick. "It's one of those where I'm yelling, 'No, no, no' and then 'yes, yes, yes.' I didn't call it, but that's Curtis being Curtis."
Jenkins, he of the bouncing ponytail and neon-green socks, is never hard to spot on the court. The star running back on Farmingdale's Nassau Conference I championship team last fall is always in the middle of the action. "My job on this team is to be a playmaker,'' he said. "I have to make plays, whatever is called for."
Saturday called for a lot, as baskets were hard to come by for both teams. Defense ruled and the Dalers didn't help their cause by going 3-for-15 from the foul line in the fourth quarter.
Jenkins missed four freebies himself in the final period but otherwise filled the stat sheet nicely with 14 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and four blocks.
Farmingdale (17-3), which earned its first county boys basketball championship since 1980, will face Suffolk champion Brentwood (21-2) for the Long Island Class AA title at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Hofstra, with the winner earning a trip to Glens Falls.
The Dalers' in-your-face, in-your-sneakers defense allowed them to build a 30-17 lead with 2:45 left in the third quarter. But Uniondale (16-4) rallied behind star guard Imran Ritchie and some tough defense of its own.
Farmingdale went scoreless for more than six minutes and Ritchie (18 points) sparked an 11-0 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters. He made the Knights' first three-pointer of the game, stole the inbounds pass, sank another trey and then made two free throws. After Shomari Redd hit two more foul shots, Uniondale suddenly had its first lead since the first quarter, 33-32.
"When they went on their run, in the huddle we said, 'That's done,' " Jenkins said.
He backed up those words with the dagger three and some big defensive plays down the stretch.
So did Malik Seelal. The senior guard made one free throw for the game's final point with 35.8 seconds left, then helped the Dalers force Uniondale to use its final two timeouts while trying to inbounds the ball under its own basket. Seelal harassed Ritchie into missing one potential tying three from the corner, then cleanly blocked another from the top of the key. The 6-1 guard had eight of his 11 rebounds in the second half to go with seven points.
Still, Redd had one final look from long range, but his desperation three-point attempt rimmed the basket as the buzzer sounded, prompting an emotional display of hugs and tears from Farmingdale players, coaches and giddy fans.
Said Jenkins, "It's the best feeling I've ever had in my life."