The Manhasset boys basketball team has shown that it’s a lot easier when egos aren’t at play.
The Indians rarely had the same leading scorer in consecutive games throughout the season, and that’s how they like it. With an all-senior starting lineup and a mix of older and younger players off the bench, the team-oriented offense showed the importance of chemistry in its most important game of the season.
“We all know that each of us individually is very talented, but together we play even better,” forward Tom Santella said. “It doesn’t matter about points. Rebounds, stats are irrelevant to us. We just want to win. Everybody on the team feels the same way.”
Manhasset proved that to be more than just words in its 85-69 victory over Wyandanch in the Long Island Class A championship/Southeast Regional final at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum on Sunday evening.
Santella led the way with 21 points, but six players — including all five senior starters — scored at least 10 points for the Indians.
Manhasset (21-3) will play Poughkeepsie (23-3) in a state Class A semifinal at 3 p.m. Friday at Binghamton’s Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena. It’s the program’s first trip to the state semifinals since 1986.
“Deep down, they had a goal,” coach George Bruns said. “We set a few, but they really meant it. So they came out, one game at a time, they did it.”
After trailing 34-32 at halftime, Manhasset outscored Wyandanch 53-35 in the second half, with its ball movement turning good chances into great looks.
“We just have that strong chemistry that we find each other open,” guard John Mastando said. “We play team defense and we got it done. Everything’s been going our way.”
Mastando scored nine of his 14 points in the fourth quarter to help Manhasset close the game on a 20-10 run.
“For me, I just need to see the ball go in the basket, and once that happens, it just seems so much easier to make shots,” he said. “I don’t have to think about it.”
Louis Perfetto scored 17 points, Chris Themelis added 11 and Joe LoCurto and Ahmad Crowell each had 10 for Manhasset. Dionte Jordan and Marcus Haywood each had 22 points for Wyandanch (17-8).
With Manhasset taking its team approach to Binghamton next, the Indians aim to win their first state championship since 1986.
“I never would have thought we’d be in this position,” Mastando said. “We’ve been playing together our whole lives, and this is actually a dream come true.”