From left, Northport's George Mansour, Nick Watts and Pat Healy celebrate after Northport defeated...

From left, Northport's George Mansour, Nick Watts and Pat Healy celebrate after Northport defeated Commack in a Suffolk Class AA semifinal at Longwood on Tuesday. Credit: Daniel De Mato

Northport’s moment of truth came in the final minute of its Suffolk AA semifinal Tuesday night, and Nick Watts met it with the biggest play of the game.

Commack had shaved a six-point Tigers lead to two in less than 50 seconds and got the ball back with a chance to tie or take the lead on a turnover with 25 seconds to play. Just about everyone in the Longwood High gym knew the Cougars would go inside to center Spencer Malloy. Commack’s 6-4 senior backed Watts down, but couldn’t get a good shot off over Northport’s 6-5 sophomore.

The shot caromed off the iron and Watts pulled down the rebound with 11 seconds left. Three quick fouls later Sean Walsh made both ends of a one-and-one with 5.5 seconds on the clock to seal a 49-45 victory.

“I knew it was going inside so it was time to wall up on him,” Watts said. “We needed the stop and we don’t let each other down on this team.”

Senior swingman Walsh finished with a game-high 21 points and said of Watts “he made the play that won this for us.” Junior guard Pat Healy, who had 10 points and four assists added “it was the biggest play of the game and he really delivered.”

Second-seeded Northport (22-1) extended Long Island’s longest winning streak to 20 games and will go for its third county title and first since 2013  when it plays No. 1 Brentwood on Friday night at Farmingdale State’s Nold Athletic Complex.

“We’ve been finding a way to win all season because we have great leadership and chemistry and we’re resourceful,” Northport coach Andrew D’Eloia said. “Commack had a great season, has one of the best coaches in [Peter] Smith and a very special player in Spencer Malloy. But [Watts] got the stop and pulled down the rebound like a man. That was a big play in a big moment, but it takes a lot of those to win a game like this.”

Walsh struggled with his shooting early and Commack (18-5) pounded the ball in to Malloy, who had eight of his 17 points as the Cougars went up 13-7. When Walsh’s shot started to fall in the second quarter – he had two of his five three-pointers and eight points in the frame – it changed everything. The Tigers put together a 16-2 run to bridge the second and third quarters for a 27-20 lead.

“My time came and I got hot,” Walsh said.

Commack scratched back and held three one-point leads in the fourth quarter before Walsh made his last three, Healy pulled up for a jumper and senior guard Larry Citrola drained a three-pointer during consecutive possessions for a 47-41 lead with 1:31 left.

“From the beginning of the season, we felt we were destined to be right where we are because it’s what we’re designed to do,” Healy said. “If there’s a way to win, we find it.”


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