Ryan Freund's free throws ice win for North Shore
North Shore senior captain Ryan Freund waited years for a moment like this.
His home gym quieted, save for the sound of his dribbling basketball, as he stood at the free-throw line on Saturday afternoon.
The Vikings led by two points with 11 seconds remaining. Freund had two shots to put the game out of reach.
“I just told myself, ‘look, you’re going to make these shots, and you’re going to help your team win this game,’” Freund said. “My team needed me.”
Freund, who joined North Shore’s varsity boys basketball team as a sophomore, drained both free throws. The Vikings (12-6, 7-3) beat Clarke 43-39 in the second regular-season meeting between the two Nassau A-V schools.
North Shore coach Harrison Berglin said Clarke won the first matchup on Jan. 7 by dominating the offensive boards and playing tougher than his Vikings team. On Saturday, North Shore scored physical layups around the rim and maneuvered around Clarke’s staunch press defense.
“We learn from our mistakes,” Berglin said. “We come back, we figure it out and we’re ready to go again.”
Nick La Rosa, Lucas Schimsky and Vasilis Triantafyllou each scored nine points for the Vikings.
Schimsky nailed three three-pointers, including a late deep ball that gave North Shore a nine-point lead, the largest of the game, with 2:38 left to play.
“If I’m open, I’ll shoot it,” Schimsky said. “We just play as a team, and we play together.”
North Shore’s team playstyle emphasizes strong defense and a balanced offense. Seven players scored for North Shore, and the team limited Clarke’s top scorer James DeSimone, who scored 27 points on Jan. 7, to 18 points on Saturday.
“[DeSimone is] a very good basketball player, and our job is to make his life miserable,” Berglin said. “That’s the best we can do. You’re not going to stop him, but you hope to contain him as much as possible.”
Berglin added that from the team’s first game, the Vikings knew Clarke could go on a big run if they let down “for a split second.”
Instead, North Shore used a 9-1 first-quarter run to take the lead with 4:14 remaining in the first frame and held it until the final buzzer. The Vikings led by as many as nine points following Schimsky’s last three-pointer, but Clarke did not trail by more than three possessions.
Two late DeSimone baskets brought Clarke within two points, but Freund, who finished with six points, sealed the game for North Shore.
The Vikings will play Lawrence and Island Trees in their final two regular season games next week.
"I feel like we really matched [Clarke's] toughness today," Freund said. "We’re resilient. We’re a special group of guys."