There’s a banner on a wall inside Smithtown West’s gym that lists league titles and Suffolk titles in boys basketball. The area under the word "COUNTY" lists none.
But the current Bulls are so good that they’ve claimed a league title for the banner and won 21 of 22 games overall, including 11 straight. And they now stand two steps away from that elusive first county title -- albeit two giant steps.
No. 3 Smithtown West’s formidable 1-2 punch of 6-8 junior forward Patrick Burke and 6-3 senior guard Tyler Anderson, along with the supporting cast, teamed to beat No. 6 Bellport, 67-57, Friday in the Suffolk AA quarterfinals.
So the Bulls will face No. 2 Northport in the semis Feb. 26 at Eastport-South Manor.
When asked if the history of the program with no county titles (not even before Smithtown was split into West and East) is driving them or if it’s more just about this team winning this year, Burke said, "It’s more just this year."
Yet he spoke about how meaningful it would be to the school and the community.
"The fact that it would be the first, we don’t really think about it," Burke said. "But we know the chance to make history is something that fuels us."
Burke scored 26 and Anderson added 20 to fuel the win.
"They’re really special," coach Michael Agostino said. "Physically, they have all the attributes that great players have. They’re athletic. They’re skilled. But then attitude-wise, they have hearts that are pure. Their only real goal is to try to win games."
The Bulls opened a 49-39 lead late in the third quarter, but the Clippers (14-8) cut it to 49-44 heading for the fourth.
Then Burke put in his own miss, Anderson made a driving scoop and Burke drove for two to make it 55-44.
The lead moved to 58-46. Then it was 58-51. Samir Bell, who had 24 points, made a layup to cap Bellport’s burst. But Burke fed Anderson for a layup and Anderson hit two free throws for a 62-51 lead.
"I just think we bounce back very easily," Anderson said.
Bellport chipped a nine-point, second-quarter deficit down to 36-32 at halftime before Anderson and Burke combined for all 13 of Smithtown West’s points in the third for that 10-point advantage.
"We didn’t play hard enough as a team," Bell said. "… We never gave up. It’s just we could have gave more."