All Oyster Bay’s Anthony Reilly needed to hear was one word, and he was off to try a shot that has won some people a million dollars.
“I heard Coach say ‘Go!’ so I was running,” said Reilly, who had just grabbed a defensive rebound. “I looked up at that shot clock and I saw four seconds left, and when it left my hand, I knew it was good.”
Reilly capped his 15-point first half with a half-court buzzer-beater to give Oyster Bay an eight-point lead in Sunday’s Nassau Class B semifinal at Hofstra. He continued his strong play in the second half, finishing with 21 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in No. 1 Oyster Bay’s 50-45 victory over No. 4 Wheatley.
“That was crazy,” Devon Marmorale said. “I freaked out, man. I just went up to him and gave him a hug.”
Marmorale scored the first seven points in a 10-0 run in the final two minutes of the half that turned a 21-19 deficit into a 29-21 lead.
“It gave the whole team a boost and everyone just got a little more hyped than we were before,” said Marmorale, who added 19 points.
Oyster Bay (11-9) will play No. 2 Carle Place (11-9) for the Nassau Class B title at 2:30 p.m. Thursday at SUNY Old Westbury.
The Baymen will be playing for back-to-back championships, but it will be the first title opportunity for Reilly, a junior who transferred back to Oyster Bay from St. Dominic. Reilly said the move wasn’t for basketball reasons, but because he enjoyed Oyster Bay more.
“Today he really came out and wanted to show everybody why he came back,” coach Brian Boyle said. “He had a special game.”
Boyle said Reilly helped rejuvenate the team after a senior-heavy championship season last year. “Huge,’’ Boyle said, “because if we didn’t have Anthony, I really don’t think we would have expected to be in the position we’re in now.”
Oyster Bay didn’t get off to a strong start, trailing 9-8 after a quarter before a 21-point second quarter. The Baymen also scored only four points in the third and entered the fourth tied. But their running offense and pressure defense helped them pull away late.
“Our approach was to run the ball and keep pushing the tempo,” Marmorale said, “because we feel like no team can stay with us when we’ve got a little energy.”
On Thursday, Reilly has the opportunity to accomplish what he returned to do.
“I came back here looking for a championship,” he said, “and we have a chance of closing it up.”