There were so many screens on display in Friday night's game between Massapequa and Oceanside that it could have been telecast on HGTV, sponsored by Home Depot. Front screens, back screens, rescreens. If it had been played outside, sunscreen would've been applied. But for all those screens, there were few windows of opportunity to score.
Visiting Oceanside got more of them and pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 52-42 victory in a Nassau Conference AA-II game. Point guard Gene Garay scored 14 of his 23 in the final period to lead the Sailors (8-1). The Chiefs, with only Matt Smocovich (11 points) in double figures, fell to 5-4.
"I was just trying to be aggressive," Garay said of his productive fourth quarter. "We have shooters. If we screen and get them open, we'll hurt you."
Forward Mike Bonomo was one of those screeners, but he also got free himself for 17 points, including four three-pointers. His final trey was from the top of the key and gave the Sailors an 11-point lead with 4:39 left.
Less than a minute later, Garay nailed a three from the wing that made it 43-32. That was the dagger, especially given that Massapequa and its own version of the screen-and-cut offense had trouble scoring.
"It was a case of the better players making the better shots," Massapequa coach Marty Voigt said. "The defense was there, but their two guys made shots when it counted."
After a third quarter that featured 11 total points - six for the Chiefs - Oceanside led 30-25. But that's when Garay took over.
"I think we've got one of the best point guards in Nassau County," said Oceanside coach Dan Keegan, whose team fell to Hicksville by one point Wednesday for its only loss of the season. "He makes good decisions and he's a finisher. At closing time, he's got more left in his tank than anyone on the court."
That was evident when Garay repeatedly accelerated past Massapequa defenders in the fourth quarter. "Setting screens opened up the whole game," Bonomo said. "We were running the pick-and-pop with Gene and me, and he got hot."
Earlier in the game, Garay was more of a playmaker, with Bonomo on the receiving end of some of his slick passes. Two of them resulted in picture-perfect back-door plays. How did Bonomo get free? Guess you could call them screen-door layups.