Nate Gordon knew the ball was coming to him. With the game on the line, the Deer Park forward wouldn’t have it any other way.
With 1:05 remaining, Gordon lined up two feet behind the three-point line on the right wing, rose up and released a shot that caught nothing but net. The bucket put Deer Park ahead by one point and sent the home crowd into a frenzy.
“I knew it was crunch time, I just stuck to the fundamentals and my form," Gordon said. "I knew it was going in when it left my hand."
Gordon scored 12 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter to lead Deer Park to a 56-54 win over Wyandanch in a Suffolk League III boys basketball game on Monday night.
Billy Murphy found himself on the free-throw line twice in the final minute with chances to give Deer Park a three-point lead. In each trip to the line, Murphy hit the first free throw, but the second one rimmed out.
“The second one just wasn’t going in for me,” Murphy said. “I was thinking, ‘What the heck?’ But we got a few stops and got back to the line. It was just enough.”
Wyandanch (2-1, 2-1) inbounded the ball from half court with 2.8 seconds left, but Deer Park didn’t allow a shot attempt before the final buzzer.
Wyandanch forward Marcus Harris had dominated the paint and the offensive glass the entire game. Deer Park made sure the 6-4 senior didn’t touch the ball on the final possession.
“We all loaded over to Harris because we knew they were going to try to get him the ball,” said Murphy, who scored 11 points.
“Wyandanch presents a lot of problems inside,” Deer Par coach John McCaffrey added. “It’s not just Harris, all their forwards contribute on the boards. They’re one of the best offensive rebounding teams I’ve seen.”
Harris kept Deer Park out of the paint early in the first half, forcing the Falcons to settle for long jump shots. Deer Park trailed 24-19 in the second quarter, but McCaffrey emphasized the importance of controlling in the paint.
“Once we realized we could get in the paint, we stopped settling for shots,” Gordon said. “If they’re not falling, we might as well try something else.”
Deer Park (2-1, 3-2) took a 29-28 lead into the second half and led by as many as seven points.
Harris had 14 points and Jayden Haywood had 12 for Wyandanch. Haywood's three-pointer with 2:15 left gave Wyandanch the lead. But Gordon had an answer.
"He can score on all three levels and you don't see a ton of high school kids that can do that," McCaffrey said of Gordon. "He can shoot the three, he can score from mid-range and he can drive on you."