It was a wild game with a crazy ending. So of course, a little-used player named Looney came off the bench to drive Amityville and its fans insane . . . with sheer ecstasy.
Gary Looney, a 6-1 junior reserve, inserted into the game in overtime after three other Warriors had fouled out, scored a layup with three seconds left on a feed from Travis Dickerson to give No. 1 Amityville a thrilling 74-73 victory over No. 3 Glenn Saturday in the Suffolk A championship before a crowd of nearly 1,000 at Farmingdale State.
Amityville (18-2), the defending Long Island Class A champion, will play for a second straight trip to Glens Falls against the Nassau A winner on March 8 at Hofstra at 5 p.m. The Warriors also will play Class B Southampton for the Suffolk Small School Championship on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. at Farmingdale State.
It was sheer agony for a gritty Glenn team that led for most of the fourth quarter and overtime. "I can't even talk right now," Looney said, as teammates hovered behind TV cameras and chanted "Gary! Gary! Gary!" before Looney took part in his first post-game interview.
Looney replaced forward Malcolm Mathis (16 points), who fouled out with 1:48 left in overtime. At that moment, Glenn led by four after an acrobatic, up-and-under layup by sophomore KeAndre Augustine gave the Knights (15-6) a 71-67 lead. Those were the last of Augustine's 30 points, 20 after intermission, in a breakout performance.
Jeff Park (17 points) made one of two free throws for a 72-67 edge with 1:41 left. But the Knights missed three of four from the foul line in the final minute and that proved costly. Dickerson (19 points) hit three of four foul shots and, in a bit of foreshadowing, fed Looney for a layup with 30 seconds left that tied it at 72.
Glenn was clinging to a 73-72 lead when Amityville coach Jack Agostino called timeout with 14.8 seconds left. "With Mike [Smith] out of the game, I set up a play for Travis to take it to the basket, but I stressed to everyone to make the extra pass," Agostino said.
Elijah Rogers inbounded to Dickerson, who dribbled to the foul line and looked to penetrate. "Coach wanted the ball in my hands. He told me to keep calm," said Dickerson who led Amityville with 19 points, including a clutch three-pointer with 11 seconds left in regulation.
"I was trying to get to the paint, but they double-teamed me," Dickerson said. "I saw the open man down low."
That it happened to be Looney, who was a mere spectator to the drama of the previous four-plus quarters until Agostino called on him. "All year, he hasn't got much playing time but he's the first kid at practice and the last one to leave the gym," Agostino said. "He never quit. I respect Travis for trusting him at the end."
Looney wasn't surprised. "This team is like my second family and we trust each other," he said, but admitted, "I was a little nervous. It's amazing to come in off the bench like that and help us win."