When Mike Smith lost his starting job earlier in the season after being sidelined with an infection, he didn't allow himself to mope.
"Coach said coming off the bench was the best thing for me," said Smith, a sophomore guard at Amityville.
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Friday night, Smith proved Jack Agostino right. He scored 18 points, including a three-pointer in the last minute of the third quarter that sparked a game-clinching 17-2 run, as Class A champion Amityville defeated Class AA champion Northport, 53-41, in the Suffolk overall championship game at Ward Melville.
It's the third straight year that the Small School champion has won the Suffolk crown. Harborfields captured the previous two.
Smith's third trey of the game gave Amityville (20-2) a 32-29 lead after three quarters, and he added a pull-up jumper and conventional three-point play during a stretch that featured several steals leading to fast-break layups.
Junior guard Travis Dickerson also was instrumental in the victory, scoring six of his 14 points in the 17-2 spurt and making a handful of steals.
As usual, defense was a key factor for Amityville, which held 6-9 center Luke Petrasek to 11 points.
"We had to front him and double-team him," Dickerson said. "We forced him to pass, force a bad shot or put it on the floor. That led to some easy baskets."
Three seniors combined to effectively contain Petrasek. Forward Kavione Green, center Zach Tannis and guard Andy Laurent (14 points) did the front-and-back double-teaming that stymied Northport (21-2).
The Tigers were playing without star point guard Matt Smith, who was ill. That put a greater burden on Petrasek and Mike Milligan (seven points), but they had trouble getting good looks against the pressure defense employed by the Warriors.
"I was very pleased with our defense," Agostino said after his eighth Suffolk overall title. "We held them to three points in the first quarter and that set the tone."
Amityville led 12-3 after that first quarter, but Matt Smith's replacement in the starting lineup, Andrew Seaman, scored six of his nine points in the second period. The Tigers showed grit in rallying to within 18-17 at halftime before tying the score at 29 late in the third on Petrasek's second two-hand slam of the game.
But Dickerson scored eight points in the fourth quarter and Mike Smith added seven for Amityville, which built a 46-31 lead with 4:27 left and coasted.
At stake in both contests is a trip to the state semifinals at Glens Falls the weekend of March 15-17.
Though Friday night's game lacked the importance of next Saturday's contest, Dickerson said the Warriors did not ease up.
"Coach told us to play hard and that the game still counted," Dickerson said. "There's a lot of pride for us to beat a bigger school."