Tim Darby never saw it coming.
"I was open. I had a clear path,'' the Bayport-Blue Point senior sharpshooter said of his three-point try with a second left that could have tied Saturday's Long Island Class A championship game. "I wanted the ball in my hands. But he came from the side and blocked it.''
Josh Robinson rejected the shot from the top of the key to clinch Valley Stream South's 61-58 win at Farmingdale State. Darby was left with one regret. "I should have pump-faked,'' he said, fighting back tears.
In his final game for the Phantoms, Darby connected on three three-pointers and scored 13 points. He bemoaned the fact that it was the last "real game" he would play with his brother Mike, a sophomore. Doug Niblock also had 13 points, including three three-pointers, and Jack Alliegro added 12 as Bayport-Blue Point completed one of the greatest seasons in school history.
The Phantoms (17-5) won League VI and the Suffolk Class B title (for the first time since 2005). They nearly erased an eight-point lead in the final 35 seconds against VSS, too.
"I'm not surprised,'' coach Charlie Peck said. "All year, these kids have believed. We had our opportunities. There were a couple of late turnovers that hurt. But I'm proud of this team. They bought into the program.''
Peck said that despite low preseason expectations from outside the Bayport-Blue Point school district, he suspected he might have something special on Dec. 11, when the Phantoms knocked off perennial power Amityville, 60-48, in their first league game.
"We came out on fire and were so determined to win that game,'' Peck said. "After that, I figured we'd be pretty good.''
Darby figured it out earlier than his coach. "I told my dad before the season that we'd go to states,'' he said. "He laughed at me.''
No one is laughing at the Phantoms now.