Herricks' Andrew Fellus a 5-8 scoring machine
His team trailed by 21 points at halftime on the night of Jan. 18, and Andrew Fellus, Long Island's leading public school scorer, had a measly three points in a huge game against Calhoun.
"A lot of kids would've packed it in and said, 'It's just one of those games,' " Herricks coach Tom Kinsella said.
It turned into one of those games, all right -- one of those once-in-a-lifetime performances that anyone who was in the Herricks gym will not forget and anyone who wasn't there will say they were.
"Even teachers at school came up to congratulate me on Monday," Fellus said. "Pretty cool."
Pretty hot is more like it. Fellus, a 5-8 dynamo whose game is equal parts long-range bomber and down-and-dirty penetrator, scored 46 points after halftime, including all 17 of the Highlanders' points in the extra period, to spark a remarkable 81-67 comeback victory.
"Our season depended on it," Fellus said of the key Nassau AA-III contest. "I don't know what happened in the second half, but something took over. With about three minutes left in the game, everything started going in."
Though that 49-point performance, which included 27 free throws, stands as a career-high landmark, Kinsella said: "I didn't even realize how many points he had because they came in the flow of the game. He wasn't forcing things. He never panicked. He only made two three-pointers, but one of them was huge when we were down five."
Even though Fellus is averaging 27.4 points per game, he thinks of himself as a point guard. "My AAU coach told me, 'In college, you won't be just a shooter.' He made me work on my ballhandling and on getting to the basket."
Fellus, a senior drawing interest from several Division II schools, usually is the shortest player on the court, but he isn't afraid to mix it up with the big boys. He has a knack for scoring layups from a variety of tough angles. When he is denied, often there's contact leading to easy points for the 90-percent free-throw shooter.
"Everyone scouts me as a three-point shooter," said Fellus, who is among the leaders on Long Island in shots from downtown. "They're always yelling, 'Don't let him shoot!' So I take it to the basket, and when the big men try to block my shot, I get a little crafty and draw fouls."
His teammates don't resent the attention or the number of shots Fellus gets. He said that during the Calhoun game, "Players were asking me in the huddle, 'How can we get you open? What can we do?' They wanted to set screens."
Before he arrived as a freshman on the varsity, the Highlanders hadn't been to the playoffs in 15 years. He's hoping to make it four straight postseason appearances this winter.
"Now, with our girls and boys teams doing well, basketball is cool and everyone comes to the games," Fellus said. "Our crowds are great and they even travel. They're loud and they support me. We're a big family at Herricks."
Kinsella, the program's father figure, calls Fellus "the best player I ever coached. He always could shoot, but now he's stronger, he gets to the basket and he distributes. He sees things the other kids don't and he reads my mind. He's a coach on the floor."
A pretty good player, too.