Most of Josh Pismeny’s points come the hard way, by hustle or muscle around the basket.
But in the third quarter Thursday, Deer Park’s 6-1 junior forward found a much easier way to score. He nailed back-to-back three-pointers from opposite corners to help the Falcons build an 18-point lead on their way to a 59-49 victory over host Half Hollow Hills West in Suffolk IV.
Pismeny scored 12 of his 19 points in the third. Brett Talbert added 18 points and Darien Jenkins had 14 as Deer Park improved to 7-1.
“I’m known for my hustle but I’ve been working on my shots late into the night,” Pismeny said. “It’s starting to pay off. My teammates found me and those shots were a momentum boost.”
Hills West dropped to 5-3 and played without star center Cam Jordan for a fifth straight game. Jordan, who signed to play football at Syracuse, suffered a concussion early during a game against Half Hollow Hills East on Jan. 8. The Colts lost that contest and have gone 2-3 in Jordan’s absence. Coach Bill Mitaritonna said he hopes to have Jordan back next week. Jovahn Williamson led the Colts with 13 points.
Deer Park took advantage of Jordan’s absence to dominate on the boards, which was an important factor when the Falcons went cold in the fourth. “We got sloppy with the ball in the fourth quarter and their pressure got to us in one stretch,” Deer Park coach John McCaffrey said. “But we stayed scrappy. We were Deer Park tough and we got every rebound in the second half.”
The Colts scored nine straight points, five by Williamson, to cut the deficit to 49-40 with 5:11 left. Matt Asenjo’s three-point play and a long trifecta by Gaetham Fils-Aime drew Hills West to within 53-47 with 1:58 left.
That’s when Jenkins scored the biggest basket of the game. He broke the press and pulled up for a jumper in the lane with 1:50 left for a 55-47 lead that essentially ended Hills West’s comeback. Deer Park scored its final four points from the foul line.
“This is as good a rivalry as there’s been in Suffolk County for the last decade,” McCaffrey said. “We had to grind it out. They’re long, they’re athletic and they get in your way.”
The Falcons got in their own way in the fourth, turning the ball over several times and missing eight of 10 free throws late. Said McCaffrey, “We can be really good for five minutes and then the next minute it’s ‘Where are we?’ ”
The answer? First place.