William Knight, Dana King, Hall Elisias spur Valley Stream South to Nassau A title
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Even the dozens of spectators who had to watch Saturday's game behind the glass walls outside after the Adelphi University arena reached its capacity were likely able to appreciate William Knight's reaction after he nailed a three-pointer to open the fourth quarter.
With his fists clenched, looking at the ceiling and displaying a wide grin, Valley Stream South's Knight had the look of a kid who knew he was about to be part of something historic.
The senior captain's trey broke a tie and ignited a 11-2 run as the fourth-seeded Falcons captured the Nassau Class A boys basketball championship by defeating No. 6 Hewlett, 66-56, before an overflow crowd of more than 1,800. It's the first county championship for the program, which started in 1955, according to VSS coach Matt Johnsen.
"Today is a great day because there's no doubt that we made history and started a legacy," said Knight, who scored 11 points in the fourth quarter and finished with 14. "That three-point play actually was designed for our big man [sophomore Hall Elisias], but they clogged the middle and then Dana [King] found me."
Of course the play was intended for Hall. The 6-7 center dominated the game with 15 points and 15 rebounds and was the key reason why the Falcons were able to rally from a poor start.
Hewlett (14-7) led 22-11 after the first quarter behind Messiah Clark, who scored nine of his 16 points in the opening period. Johnsen said after the game that he couldn't remember a time this season where his team was down by that much.
But VSS (18-3) chipped away at the lead in the second quarter with point guard King making several pretty passes inside to Elisias and Dimitri Badette, who finished with 10 points, despite fouling out in the fourth.
The Falcons had found something that worked.
"We said the game was going to be won in the paint," Johnsen said. "Our plan was to pump it to Hall, and he's played out of this world for us."
The scheme continued into the second half and VSS took its first lead with 4:10 left in the third quarter when King, who had a game-high 18 points, buried a three-pointer. The quarter ended with the score tied after both teams traded baskets.
With Clark plagued by foul trouble and Hewlett's leading scorer Avery Feldman (10 points), who is 6-2, held in check by the much smaller King, the Bulldogs were never able to close the gap in the final minutes.
"I love the challenge and the opportunity to play against bigger players," King said.
VSS will play Glenn at 5 p.m. Saturday at Hofstra for the Long Island Championship.
After the game, King paused and looked at the scoreboard. Though it was a first for him, it appeared as if he experienced winning a county title before. He almost had to be forced by teammates to celebrate the historic win.
"Well, that's because we're not done yet," King said. "We have another game and we're going to try and win that one, too. I'm happy for the legacy we created today; I just know we're not done yet."