Given the smile on his face when the clock read 0:00, unless you were familiar with the story of this season’s Oyster Bay team, you wouldn’t have known that Rob Howes didn’t score a point.
Howes, who scored 17 points in the semifinals, dished out seven assists Thursday in No. 1 Oyster Bay’s 54-42 victory over No. 3 Wheatley in the Nassau Class B boys basketball championship game at LIU Post. He flawlessly led a five-senior starting lineup to an 18-6 first-quarter lead that catapulted Oyster Bay to its first county championship since 2006.
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If you’re a fan of balanced scoring, the Baymen are the team to watch. Their top three leading scorers were Kyle Schindler (15 points), Mike Bizzoso (14) and Steve Shoemaker (10). Leo Barretto added nine points and 11 rebounds and battled down low with the taller Wheatley forwards. All Howes had to do was get them the ball.
“It’s easy to run them because we’ve been playing together for like our whole lives,” Howes said, “so our chemistry is really good.”
Howes knows his teammates are there for him both on and off the court. When his mother, Margaret, passed away from pancreatic cancer last month, he leaned on his classmates for support.
“My team rallied around me,” Howes said. “It’s a brotherhood, so they really helped with it and we just made it our mission to win the counties.”
Oyster Bay (12-9) will play Southampton for the Long Island Class B title at 8 p.m. on March 1 at Suffolk County CC-Selden.
Wheatley (7-14) fought back in the third quarter and pulled to within six points on multiple occasions. Bizzoso’s three-pointer from the corner with 2:46 remaining gave the Baymen a 52-40 lead and proved to be the dagger.
Bizzoso felt relief in bringing Oyster Bay a title. “We’ve been going after this for like six years now,” he said. “We’ve dreamed of this. We’ve had this in our minds since seventh grade and we were finally able to get it. It feels like a big burden off our shoulders.”
“It doesn’t feel real yet,” Shoemaker said.
Said Schindler, “To end my senior year like this, it’s the best feeling in the world.”