George Mansour knew he could make the shot.
The Northport junior hasn’t been much of a deep-shooting threat this season, but with 7:11 left in the fourth quarter on Wednesday night Mansour made a crucial three-pointer, lifting the Tigers to a 62-48 victory over Connetquot in Suffolk II.
“My three has been a little down this year, honestly,” said Mansour, who scored 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter. “But I have confidence in my shot. We prepared for this and I knew I had to make it.”
Mansour’s basket came 20 seconds after Connetquot’s (5-2) Jaden Kealey made it a 38-37 game on the first play of the fourth quarter. The T-Birds had rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit, but Northport never worried.
Instead, the Tigers (5-2) pushed tempo on their very next possession, moving up the court and getting the ball into Mansour’s hands. His shot gave Northport some much-needed breathing room and, according to coach Andrew D’Eloia, allowed the team to stay focused on its game plan down the stretch.
“When the game gets tight, you have to stick with the plan and process,” D’Eloia said. “That’s what I’m most proud of our guys for, they stayed the course and didn’t lose their composure.”
Connetquot did its best to mount another rally, but Northport locked in on defense, switching between man-to-man and zone looks that kept the T-Birds from finding their rhythm.
“We work on our defense all the time, mixing them up like that,” Mansour said. “We wanted to confuse them.”
Northport continued to bring pressure in the waning minutes of the fourth, keeping Connetquot on its collective toes and forcing turnovers that led to transition points. The Tigers wrapped up the game on an 18-7 run in the final 5:55 of play, sparked by two more Mansour treys and a Pat Healy dunk that brought the crowd to its feet.
“Our hustle and effort were there,” said Healy, who finished with 13 points and six assists. “We were talking on defense, getting out in transition and getting those easy layups.”
By the final whistle, seven different Northport players scored.
It wasn’t an easy win, but it was one the Tigers were especially proud of. They battled late and, when it mattered, sank baskets, a formula D’Eloia said he’s hopeful will help Northport continue to compete in Suffolk II.
“On any given night, any team in this league can beat any other team,” D’Eloia said. “But we’re loving it. That’s what makes it fun.”