Suffolk County Community College will take its undefeated record to the NJCAA Division III men's basketball championships.
The Sharks defeated Nassau Community, 72-67, to win the Region XV championship at Borough of Manhattan Community College Sunday. After trailing by five points at halftime, the Sharks outscored Nassau 47-37 in the second half.
“It was just a matter of getting our guys to really calm down,” coach Victor Correa said. “I think they were overly excited and it caused us to get in some foul trouble in the first half. Basically, I just explained to them that we felt they were the best team on the floor, and it was just calming down and getting back to basics.”
Tyree Grimsley of North Babylon led Suffolk with 23 points and seven rebounds and Steven Tynes, of Brentwood added 13 points and 11 rebounds; the two players played all 40 minutes for the Sharks. Grimsley was named most valuable player of the tournament. Tynes, who was a first-team All-American point guard last year, was named to the all-tournament team and Region XV Player of the Year as Suffolk’s leader in a team-oriented offense.
“Everything we do, we don’t care who ends up with the high points, it’s all about winning,” said Correa, who was named the Region XV Coach of the Year. “And when you have your point guard who has the ball 90 percent of the time and he buys in and believes it, it just makes it easier for everyone else around you.”
Suffolk (27-0) returned six rotation players — Grimsley, Tynes, Jaye Bookhart, Ryan Graziano, James Signer and Jonathan Agostino — from last year’s team, which reached the Region XV final, and Correa credited their leadership and experience for the team’s play.
The Sharks, the top-ranked team in the country, play in the quarterfinals of the NJCAA Division III championships March 14 at the Rochester Regional Sports Center in Minnesota. The semifinals are the following day with the championship March 16 Suffolk has won the national championship twice.
“We separate the year into three seasons and the guys understand that the third season is the three games at the national tournament,” Correa said. “If they can buy in and focus in those three games, they will fall in that category of the other two great Suffolk basketball teams.”