Defense keys win for Kings Park in Suffolk Class A semifinal
The first quarter ended in this Suffolk Class A boys basketball semifinal, and the scoreboard showed a stunning number for Kings Park: 2.
“I don’t think that’s ever happened in all my days coaching,” Kingsmen coach Chris Rube said. “They didn’t panic.”
The top-seeded defending champs had allowed just seven points to No. 4 Wyandanch at that point. They shook off the slow start and caught up about midway through the second quarter. Defense continued to rule for both teams from there.
But Matty Garside nailed four threes and scored 18 points and Thomas Matonti hit two large free throws near the end for Kings Park. A sagging zone helped, too. So the Kingsmen survived a sweaty challenge, claiming a 41-37 win Tuesday at Longwood.
“The main words for our program are heart, smart, tough, defense, and then no matter what, we always play together,” Rube said. “One of the greatest strengths of our team is that they believe. They believe in each other and they believe in me.”
Kings Park (16-6), which lost four starters last graduation day, will face No. 3 Mount Sinai (18-4) in the final at 5 p.m. Saturday at Stony Brook.
Wyandanch (14-7), which was led by Tyiem Joiner’s 10 points, had to settle for making the final four, just like last season.
“Second straight year; we were trying to get back here and finish it this time,” coach Barry Baker Jr. said. “But unfortunately we came up short again. … Overall, we fought a good fight.”
Baker’s team trailed, 39-37, and then the Kingsmen committed a turnover with 29.8 seconds remaining. But Wyandanch turned it over with 11.7 seconds to go when a pass inside couldn’t be held.
Matonti was then fouled with 5.4 seconds left – a one-and-one.
Good and good. Four-point lead.
“Every day we simulate that end-of-the-game pressure, which allowed those two to be seamless,” Matonti said after scoring 11, including a trio of three pointers.
Garside had buried a long three for a 37-33 edge with 2:29 left.
Marcus Harris, who scored eight of his nine in the final quarter, put in an offensive rebound to cut it to two. Garside then began to drive before finding Scott McConville underneath for a layup and a 39-35 lead.
But Harris tipped in another offensive rebound to cut it to two with 1:02 remaining.
“It was probably stressful for the fans,” Garside said. “… Really, our defense just brought us through.”