There will come a time at the end of this high school boys basketball season when the last ball has bounced and the last net has rippled. Maybe then, when there is the gift of perspective, people be able to truly appreciate what Manhasset did in Saturday night’s Nassau Class A championship game.
Top-seeded Manhasset was matched against Garden City in what looked like a very balanced matchup. The first six minutes, however, were anything but balanced as the third-seeded Trojans scored the game’s first 16 points.
When Liam Connor hit a layup on the break with 2:30 left in the first quarter after a Garden City miss, Manhasset had its first field goal and had taken the first step on a stunning ascent.
Manhasset finally hit the first peak in the fourth quarter when it caught up to the Trojans — and then sprinted past to the summit and a 56-48 title game victory at Hofstra’s Mack Sports Complex.
"Talk about sticker shock," Manhasset coach George Bruns said. "It was like that Mike Tyson saying: ‘Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.’ We got punched, all right. But our guys hung together through it. I knew that defense would be our only chance to get back in it or else [Garden City] would just keep scoring. That’s how they climbed back in."
James Notias drained a three-pointer off a feed from Connor with 5:40 to play to tie the score for the last time at 42.
Michael Notias made a pair of free throws with 4:57 left for Manhasset’s first lead and, after a Trojan turnover, put in a layup on the break for a 46-42 lead. Garden City twice cut the margin to two points, the last time at 50-48 on Jackson Perisa’s drive with 1:59 left, but never pulled even.
Manhasset (22-1) is a county champion for the fifth time and first since 2019. It will meet Suffolk Class A champ Kings Park (23-0), the last unbeaten team on Long Island, on March 12 in the Long Island Class A final at Hofstra.
Manhasset will be going for its third Long Island championship and first since 2019.
"That is a game that none of us will ever forget — what we did is going to [endure] a long time," Manhasset’s Liam Buckley said.
Connor had 18 points, James Notias scored 12 points, Michael Notias had 11 points and Buckley had 10 points for Manhasset. Kyle Wood had 19 points and Leonidas Vlogianitis had 13 for Garden City (17-4).
Perisa had six points and Wood four as the Trojans opened that 16-0 lead by scoring on eight of their first nine possessions.
"We came out hot and put all our hearts into it," GC coach Jim Hegmann said. "But Manhasset was the top seed for a reason. They are incredibly consistent and have a lot of guys capable of carrying the load. Once they got their feet under them, you could see it."
Connor made a three-pointer at the final buzzer of the third quarter to get the margin down to 38-35. Of the 21 points Manhasset scored in the fourth quarter, Michael Notias had nine and James Notias (yes, they’re brothers) had eight.
"The lights are a little brighter in a game like this and everyone is a little nervous — that happens all the time in sports," Connor said. "Once our first shot went in, we relaxed and got back to thinking ‘we’re not out of this.’ "