Following an inauspicious start that resulted in heavy momentum for their foe, a raucous opposing crowd and plenty of questions left to be answered, the Garden City boys basketball team regrouped on the Hofstra sideline and remembered one thing.
"We just talked about how things like this happen and there was still three more quarters left," Garden City guard Leonidas Vlogianitis said. "A bunch of time. Just had to keep going."
The No. 3 Garden City found themselves to begin the second quarter and got back on track, earning a 67-55 victory over No. 10 Valley Stream North in a Nassau Class A semifinal at Hofstra on Tuesday night.
Garden City (17-3) will face No. 1 Manhasset in the final at 5 p.m. Saturday at Hofstra.
Garden City made a swift turnaround in the second after struggling out of the gate and falling behind 9-3 in the first six minutes. Valley Stream North led 13-8 entering the second, but back-to-back layups by Tarell Joseph and Vlogianitis in the opening minute quickly brought Garden City to within one and ultimately jumpstarted their 16-2 spurt.
Quinn Long closed the extended run with a layup with 3:51 to go in the half, giving Garden City a 24-15 lead before entering the locker room with a 27-19 advantage.
Vlogianitis led Garden City with 18 points.
Jackson Perisa, who added 14 points, said Garden City bounced back after its early struggles after adjusting to the unfamiliar surroundings.
"The first quarter was all about getting used to this environment," Perisa said. "This was our first time playing here. But we stuck together as a team and we just leaned on each other."
Garden City began pulling away in the third, taking a 49-29 lead at the end of the third thanks to a 12-5 run in the final 3:24. Valley Stream North (15-7) then mounted one final comeback attempt in the fourth, cutting the deficit to 59-51 with 2:07 to go.
But despite a momentum shift similar to the opening minutes, Garden City regrouped once again — this time hitting eight of its final nine free throws to close the victory.
Now Garden City shifts its focus to Manhasset and the opportunity to win a county title.
"[Manhasset's] a great team," Garden City coach Jim Hegmann said. "A well-disciplined team with great coaches and players. Tough kids — should be a great game."