The Jericho boys basketball team breaks the huddle the same way each time with one simple word: Trust. And after entering the fourth quarter trailing by two points, that trust was put in the hands of Aaron Jaffee.
The senior forward scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter for Jericho in its 64-61 Nassau A-II boys basketball victory over host Manhasset on Wednesday night. He also had an assist on Corey Wong’s three-pointer to give the Jayhawks their first lead of the game, 57-54, with 2:58 remaining in the fourth quarter, in just Manhasset’s second loss of the season.
“As underdogs, they’re a great team but they thought they could come out and beat us without a fight,” said Jaffee, who finished with 22 points. “But it’s my senior year. I’ve been on the team for four years and I knew it was time to win.”
But Jaffee had some help down the stretch, including Brandon Weiss hitting a three-pointer with 55 seconds remaining to give Jericho a 62-56 advantage.
"The shot clock was running down and I had little space and I thought I could make it,” said Weiss, who finished with 21 points. “As soon as it left (my hand) I thought it was going in.”
After a three by Manhasset’s John Mastando and two foul shots made by Louis Perfetto, Weiss hit both of his foul shots with 14.3 seconds remaining for the game’s final points. Manhasset missed a potential tying three-pointer at the buzzer.
The combination of Jaffee and Weiss scored 15 of Jericho’s 18 fourth-quarter points – with the two trading compliments about each other.
“He was taking out their big man and he was hitting his shots,” Weiss said. “And that’s what he does.”
“Every game for the past three years, we know he’s the kid in the clutch,” Jaffee said. “At the end of the game, we always go to him and he never disappoints.”
Mastando led Manhasset (5-2) with 16 points. Thomas Santella had 14 points and Chris Themelis chipped in with 11.
Jericho (4-3) trailed for the majority of the game, tying the score three times in the fourth quarter before taking its first lead on Wong’s three-pointer. But the Jayhawks kept the score close throughout, never trailing by more than seven points.
“Everyone on the team really wanted to win that game and we knew we needed that win,” Weiss said. “We came in right from the start and we were really intense. Everyone played well together.”