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Switching defenses helps Manhasset roll to victory

Using man-to-man defense after halftime stymies Nassau A-II rival Sewanhaka.

Chris Themelis of Manhasset drives to the basket

Chris Themelis of Manhasset drives to the basket against Joseph Hicks of Sewanhaka during a Nassau boys basketball game on Wednesday at Manhasset. Photo Credit: Anna Sergeeva

With the first half in the books, Chris Themelis and his teammates searched for an answer on defense and a better rhythm on offense.

As they sat in the locker room at halftime and reviewed their options, the solution became clear — scrap the defensive gameplan altogether.

Switching from their 3-2 zone to a man-to-man approach gave the Manhasset boys basketball team the results they were looking for, as it sparked a second-half surge in a 71-58 home victory over Nassau A-II rival Sewanhaka on Wednesday night.

Themelis, who led Manhasset with 19 points, provided an even greater impact on the other end of the floor. He served as the primary defender on Sewanhaka guard Joseph Hicks, who lit up Manhasset for 22 points in the first half before finishing the night with 25.

“It was a big halftime adjustment,” Themelis said. “I did the best I could. I challenged myself. I’ve been the primary defender the last couple of games and I felt that I could be that again.”

Trailing 39-32 at the break, Manhasset (10-3) pulled together on defense, which ultimately helped create an up-tempo pace that generated plenty of easy offense in transition.

After outscoring Sewanhaka (10-3) in the third quarter 20-11, Manhasset entered the fourth ahead 52-50 before going on the decisive 17-3 run, capped by a Jack Mastando layup with 1:39 remaining. He finished with 18 points.

Hicks made his presence known from the outset, ending the opening quarter with 12 points before concluding the half with 22.

“The zone wasn’t working in the first half,” Manhasset coach George Bruns said. “They were beating us badly on the boards. The first time we played them the zone was effective but this time they solved it very well. So we came out in the man in the second half and it slowed them down and they lost their rhythm.”

Once that rhythm was broken, Manhasset found theirs and never looked back.

“Our defense led to a lot of fastbreaks,” Mastando said. “That was pretty much the game right there.”

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