Jason Feliz was nowhere to be found for Brentwood last season when Half Hollow Hills West ended its dream of a third consecutive Long Island championship in the Suffolk AA final.
After playing for St. John the Baptist during his sophomore and junior seasons, Feliz returned to Brentwood. In Tuesday night’s quarterfinal rematch against Hills West, his presence was undeniable.
“I wanted to make a difference this year,” said Feliz, who had 19 points and 12 rebounds as No. 2 Brentwood avenged last season’s loss to No. 7 Hills West with a 78-74 overtime win in a Suffolk AA quarterfinal.
Coach Anthony Jimenez raved about Feliz’s value: “It’s a blessing to have him back.”
Jimenez and his players refuted any sort of revenge factor, but Rahmel Allen’s immediate grin spoke volumes when asked about this victory.
“It feels good,” said Allen, who led Brentwood with 24 points and nine rebounds.
Allen lit up Hills West’s defense in OT. Jimenez drew up a right-corner three-pointer on the opening play that Allen drilled for a 66-63 lead. The Indians never looked back.
Allen’s layup with 1:25 left put Brentwood up eight, essentially booking a trip to Stony Brook University to take on No. 3 Half Hollow Hills East in the semifinals Saturday night. Allen had 10 of his team’s 15 points in overtime.
“No nerves,” Allen said. “I’ve been there before. My teammates believed in me.”
A putback layup by Feliz with 11 seconds to go in the fourth gave the Indians a 63-61 advantage. Hills West’s Cameron Jordan banked in a double-clutch, hanging jumper from just outside the lane as time expired.
Host Brentwood (18-4) got off to a blazing start. Sparked by eight points from Feliz, the Indians built a 16-4 lead in the first quarter. An 11-0 run by Hills West cut the deficit to one. Matthew Asenjo, who had 20 points, began the spurt with a floater from the right baseline with 3:07 remaining.
A free throw by Jordan (25 points) midway through the third provided Hills West (17-5) with its first lead, 40-39. The Indians led 47-46 entering the fourth.
Allen’s overtime performance sent Brentwood to the semis, but Feliz’s triumphant return helped paved the way.
“I think we can go to the state championship,” Feliz said. “I’m calling it right now.”