The game was all over but the shouting. Deer Park had a commanding lead over Half Hollow Hills West in their Suffolk Class AA quarterfinal Tuesday night. There was still time remaining, however, for more drama in the game within the game.
With about two minutes left, Deer Park coach John McCaffrey summoned his star player, Aaren Edmead, off the bench. "He said he was putting me back in the game because I need one more point," Edmead said. "I didn't even know."
One more point would give the Wagner-bound senior guard 1,000 for his career and McCaffrey wanted to let Edmead celebrate in front of an overflow crowd at Deer Park. Upon re-entry, Edmead was fouled and after he sank the first free throw, an announcement was made to the crowd. Edmead was mobbed by his teammates and received a standing ovation. Now it was all over, including the shouting.
"I tried to calm down and not think about it," Edmead said of his grand moment. He went on to sink the second free throw and returned to the bench with 17 points as the No. 2 Falcons crushed the No. 7 Colts, 78-48, and advanced to the Suffolk AA semifinals against Half Hollow Hills East on Friday at 5 p.m. at Farmingdale State.
Karon Blackwell led Deer Park (17-3) with 22 points, including four three-pointers. He scored 11 in the first quarter when the Falcons forced five early turnovers to take a 15-2 lead that set the tone. Hills West (13-7), which lost to Deer Park for the third time this season, was led by its own 1,000-point scorer, Terry Harris, who scored 15 points in his final high school game but was harassed by a box-and-one alignment with different Falcons guarding him on nearly every possession.
Harris wasn't the only Colt smothered by Deer Park's pressure "D." Hills West had trouble crossing half-court numerous times and got few uncontested shots.
"We defend. That's who we are," McCaffrey said. "We had to commit a lot to Terry. He can handle, post and score. When the bracket came out, I thought, 'We have to deal with them for a third time?' "
That wasn't a problem. In fact, the only drama was whether Edmead would get his 1,000th point. "I knew I was close but I didn't know how many I needed," Edmead said. "I think Coach kept it from me on purpose."