When Elmont’s top guard, Victor Olawoye, limped to the bench early in the second quarter, there was pain etched on his face.
But Olawoye’s pain was Isamel Astasie’s gain. The 6-foot guard came off the bench to provide energy and leadership, and oh by the way, filled up the stat sheet. Astasie scored 12 points with nine rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks to lead No. 1 Elmont to a 67-50 victory over No. 4 Valley Stream North Wednesday night in the first of two Nassau Class A semifinals played at Hofstra.
“When Vic went down, instead of going ‘oh shoot’ our guys stepped up,” Elmont coach George Holub said. “Several guys did a good job.”
Astasie scored eight points in the second quarter to help the Spartans build a 29-19 halftime advantage. Then when Valley Stream North cut it to 31-25 on back-to-back threes by Noah Shy, Elmont’s star, K.C. Ndefo, took over.
Ndefo sank two free throws followed by a straight-away three-pointer and a turnaround jumper in the lane. In less than two minuntes, Elmont was ahead 40-25 and in command. Ndefo scored 20 points, blocked six shots and grabbed eight rebounds as Elmont, the defending county, Long Island and state Class A champion, improved to 18-4. The Spartans will face South Side for the Nassau Class A championship on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Hofstra. Valley Stream North finished 18-4 and received a strong game from Shy, who scored 24 points with five rebounds and three steals.
Astasie was especially effective in the open court in the second quarter. He finished on the fastbreak off a behind-the-back pass from Olawoye, who turned his right ankle on the play, according to Holub, who said he expects Olawoye to play on Saturday. Astasie also sliced through the Valley Stream North defense for a layup and converted on an inbounds play to make it 29-19.
He added a pair of layups in the third quarter, going coast-to-coast after a steal to make it 42-29. Conrad Ihaza added eight points off the bench while forward Vince McDonald picked up some of Olawoye’s scoring slack with 12 points.
“Now it’s playoff time. We had to step up. Vic is one of our leaders,” Astasie said. “We got them spaced out and we were able to get to the basket.”
When things got a little tight early in the third quarter, Ndefo, quiet until then, got involved in the offense with his seven quick points. “All of a sudden he took over,” Holub said. “That’s what he does. He tries to get everyone involved, but in crunch time he steps up.”
So did Astasie.