The place was packed for the visiting team's layup line. Even Bellport's junior varsity players delayed their showers to watch. All were rewarded when Tobias Harris of Half Hollow Hills West tossed the ball ahead of him, put it between his legs and threw down a thunderous tomahawk dunk.
Then the varsity game started and the home team, after a slow start, got some cheers, too.
Bellport shook off a 14-point first-quarter deficit, brought the house down when it tied Hills West twice in the third quarter but ultimately could not finish off Long Island's No. 1 team. The Colts pulled away in the fourth quarter for an 85-77 League IV victory that left them at 11-0 overall and 8-0 in league play.
The Clippers slipped to 7-5, 6-2, but not before throwing a huge scare into Hills West and even doing a decent job of preventing Harris from dominating.
"Front-and-back double-teaming, denials. They knew they had to do that," Colts coach Bill Mitaritonna said of the Clippers' strategy. "So other guys stepped up."
Harris, the player the fans came to see, scored 20 points, but 10 of them came at the free-throw line as Bellport limited his touches. So Harris distributed - a career-high eight assists - and grabbed 13 rebounds to contribute in less flamboyant ways.
Others provided the oohs and ahhs. Tobias' younger brother Tyler scored 19 points, including two three-pointers and his first career dunk. "My brother said, 'It's about time,' " Tyler said.
Point guard Tavon Sledge scored 25 points and had 10 assists. Forward Emile Blackman had 16 points inside.
That offset some outstanding play by Bellport, which got 21 points from Connor Fedge, 20 from Antoine Rountree and 14 from Armand Correa.
A baseline floater by Rountree capped a 6-0 run that tied it at 47 with 3:07 left in the third quarter, prompting a timeout. "When it's tight, we put it in Sledge's hands," Mitaritonna said.
Sledge put the hammer down, driving the length of the court for three straight hoops. "We wanted to get it to Tobias, but if they shadowed him , I knew I'd get wide open for a layup," said Sledge, who scored 16 of his points in the second half.
Sledge scored on a breakaway and made two feeds to Tobias Harris that resulted in a conventional three-point play and a dunk as the Colts closed the third quarter on a 9-2 run for a 62-53 lead.
When the gritty Clippers cut it to 71-68 with 4:06 left, Sledge scored a layup, set up Tyler Harris for another layup and fed Blackman for a dunk that made it 81-72.
The fans then headed for the exits. They'd seen enough.