Matt Licciardi is a playmaker, whether the ball is in his hands or in his stick.
“Basketball and lacrosse are so similar, it’s scary,” said Cold Spring Harbor’s All-Long Island senior midfielder, who, at 5-7, also happens to be the Seahawks’ point guard. “It’s one of the reasons I play lacrosse. Being a point guard emulates being a middie in lacrosse. I see the whole field.”
And on Monday, Licciardi saw the whole court. He had 11 points and 10 assists and ran the show in host Cold Spring Harbor’s 72-45 win over Oyster Bay in a matchup of Nassau ABC contenders.
The Class A Seahawks (5-1) dominated in all phases in handing the Class B Baymen (4-1) their first loss in league play. Anthony Reilly scored 17 points for Oyster Bay and CSH received big games from sophomore forwards Aidan Adomaites (16 points, 13 assists) and John Vavassis (14 points, nine rebounds).
They helped make up for the absence of the Seahawks’ leading scorer, Reese Grossman, who averages 18.5 points per game but missed the game with the flu, according to coach Jason Mercurio. “I’m so proud of everyone who stepped up,” said Licciardi, a vocal leader who directs traffic and gives teammates advice and encouragement. “I told them that it’s not one guy who will make up for Reese. It’s everyone. So we shared the ball, moved the rock and got it in transition.”
Mercurio was happy to let his coach on the floor keep things moving. “He’s our leader,” he said. “And he showed his leadership today. We didn’t have Reese for the first time in two years and we came off a tough loss to Seaford on Friday night in the final seconds. I’ve had him on varsity for four years and he has really matured.”
Licciardi had nine points in the first half as CSH took a 29-19 lead. He made sure it was his teammates who did the scoring in a dominant second half.
Adomaites netted 10 points during a game-changing 12-2 run in the third quarter that produced a 46-25 lead. Vavassis also had 10 points in the second half. Both players came up big on the offensive boards.
“Second-chance points get us going,” Adomaites said. “When I rebound, it gets me going, too.”
Licciardi is going at top speed all the time, dribbling between and around defenders, firing no-look passes and pulling up for jumpers. It’s a familiar role. In lacrosse, in which he has committed to Cornell, he wins faceoffs, scores goals and racks up assists as the triggerman for a high-powered offense that has produced two consecutive state Class C titles.
Said Licciardi, “Basketball helps my transition to lacrosse.”