Manhasset boys win LI 'A' crown, book ticket to state semifinals
A week ago, the Manhasset boys basketball team were the comeback kids, overcoming a 16-0 deficit in the Nassau Class A championship game. They made sure to find their groove much earlier against Kings Park in the Long Island championship Saturday afternoon.
Kings Park fought hard and mounted several comebacks in the game’s first 20 minutes, but a third quarter explosion led Manhasset to a 75-57 victory and its third Long Island Championship.
"We’re on a mission," head coach George Bruns said. "Coach [Stu] Goldman always says, ‘You haven’t played your best game yet.’ This might be our best game so far."
Manhasset took advantage of early Kingsmen mistakes and fouls to take an 11-3 lead. Kings Park quickly gained its composure and tied the game at 11 with an 8-0 run early in the second quarter. But Manhasset regained control and took a 27-18 lead on the back of Mike Notias, who had nine points in the quarter.
"We wanted to start off quick," Notias said. "We knew if we played together and didn’t give up fastbreaks, we would be tough to beat."
Even after a buzzer beating floater by Jon Borkowski sent the Kingsmen into halftime down 27-23, Manhasset kept its composure and opened the second half on fire.
"It was a matter of punch-counterpunch in the first half, but we stuck with them and had ourselves some third quarter," Bruns said.
A trey from Matthew Perfetto, drawn charge and a mid-range jumper from Liam Buckley put Manhasset up 32-23 in the first minute of the second half. Kings Park again mounted a comeback and cut the deficit to two points.
Then Manhasset opened the floodgates.
Up seven with 2:30 left in the third quarter, Liam Connor threw up a lob in transition to Buckley, who touched in a layup through contact to finish the alley-oop and send the Manhasset student section into a frenzy.
"We usually fool around with that in practice, but I never thought we were going to bring that into a game one day," Buckley said.
"I know if I put it up there, he’s going to go up and put it in," said Connor. "It really shifted the momentum to our side, so credit to him for finishing it."
Buckley followed the alley-oop with a floater and a corner three to put Manhasset up 48-34 with 1:51 remaining in the third.
"Once you get on a roll like that, it’s just pure energy. It felt amazing," said Buckley, who scored 12 of his 16 points in the third.
Manhasset capped off their huge third quarter with a steal and a buzzer-beating layup by Connor to take a 54-36 lead into the fourth.
Manhasset led by as much as 22 in the final frame while punching their ticket to the NYSPHSAA semifinals.
Notias led Manhasset with 22 points, while Connor added 18. Borkowski led Kings Park with 17 points and Matt Garside had 15.
Manhasset will play the winner of the Northeast regional final, either Maine-Endwell or Poughkeepsie, at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls on Saturday at 9 a.m.
"We’re just excited to have another week together," Connor said. "No matter who we play, it’s going to be a tough test, but we’ll be ready for it."