Total team effort nets Manhasset boys basketball the Class A state championship
GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – This was truly a famous final scene.
Manhasset turned in true ensemble performance in Sunday’s state Class A championship game against Section III’s New Hartford that had a little bit of everything. It included four double-digit scorers, the grit to match the Spartans’ physicality on the backboards, some inspired defense by Mike Notias and a serious dose of clutch at the end.
When it was all added together, Manhasset emerged with a masterful 62-51 victory at Cool Insuring Arena and its second state public school championship. Manhasset (25-1) last won the state Class B title in 1986.
“What makes us special is a chemistry and faith in each other that the contributions can come from any one of us,” said Tournament MVP Liam Connor, the championship trophy in hand. “We knew we were going to be a great team from the start, but its so satisfying to finish the job and be taking this home with us.”
“It’s a dedicated, disciplined group that earned everything it got,” Manhasset coach George Bruns said.
After their semifinal win on Saturday, the Manhasset players stayed to watch New Hartford win its semifinal and Bruns came away knowing there was going to be a tough problem to solve in Spartans star Zach Philipkoski. A strong 6-4 guard with enormous shooting range, he’d led New Hartford (24-3) in scoring every game he played and had 28 of the team's 52 points in its semifinal win. As Bruns said, “You win games like these by taking your opponents’ best player as much out of the equation as you can."
Many different zone defenses were considered, but Manhasset came back to its man-to-man. The surprise was not putting a big man on Philipkoski, but rather Notias, who gives up five or six inches and maybe 35 pounds. “He’s our quickest guy and that was an approach we could take,” Bruns said. “Plus with Mike, he always wants the tough assignments.”
Philipkoski finished with 21 points, but he had just three entering the fourth quarter as Manhasset built a 39-26 lead. He made six three-pointers in the fourth quarter but the Spartans never got closer than seven points.
And that was because Liam Buckley was going off for nine of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. Four different Manhasset players were a combined 8-for-10 at the foul line in the final 2:10 to seal the win.
“I didn’t do too much [Saturday],” Buckley said of his nine-point semifinal performance. “It was time to turn it up. I felt really good shooting the ball all day from the start.”
Buckley and the rest of the Manhasset offense built the lead with Philipkoski in check. Notias had nine of his 16 points and Connor had eight of his 13 in the first half. Manhasset outscored the Spartans 14-7 in the third quarter, with Buckley netting six points and Notias making a three-pointer with five seconds left for the 13-point lead.
Jimmy Notias added 10 points for Manhasset. Buckley and Mike Notias were all-tourney selections.
“Their defense on [Philipkoski] was good, but they beat us on the other end with five guys that can handle and five guys that can shoot all game,” Spartans coach John Randall said. “When we finally got going, they had an answer for everything. Manhasset was good for all 32 minutes.”
“They came here on a mission,” Bruns said of his players. “They completed the mission.”