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Pandolfi, Stony Brook try valiantly in Southeast Regional loss

Stony Brook's Tim Pandolfi is surrounded by Blind

Stony Brook's Tim Pandolfi is surrounded by Blind Brook defenders. (March 12, 2010) Photo Credit: Photo by

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. - The notes of Aretha Franklin's classic "Respect" had barely faded to echoes after a timeout when Blind Brook's Mike Tomasula dribbled, turned and nailed a fadeaway jumper that gave his team an eight-point lead with 2:48 remaining. As he raced back on defense, Tomasula punched the air fiercely, an exclamation point of a gesture that said: "That's how I spell respect!"

Tomasula's dagger, and his tough, hanging bank shot moments earlier, highlighted a 12-0 run that gave Blind Brook an insurmountable lead. The Trojans, from Rye Brook in Westchester, posted a 47-35 victory over Long Island champion Stony Brook Friday night in the Southeast Regional Class C boys basketball final at Goldstein Center at Pace University in Westchester.

"The kid was a little bullet and that shot was a back-breaker," Stony Brook coach Mike Hickey said. "It really hurt us. It was a dramatic moment. We had some set plays to hopefully get back in it."

Instead, the Bears (14-5) were in the midst of a fourth-quarter scoring drought that lasted 6 minutes, 20 seconds, and they were outscored 16-4 in that final period.

Tim Pandolfi, Stony Brook's leading scorer, had given his team a 33-31 lead with a jumper off a screen to start the quarter. But neither he nor his teammates scored again until Pandolfi sank two free throws with 1:20 left. By then it was 43-33.

"They did a good job taking Tim away," Hickey said. "He's our top gun and it was challenging for him to get his shots off."

Tomasula - who scored 16 points, 10 in the fourth quarter - gave Blind Brook a 29-21 lead in the third quarter, but Stony Brook fought back. With Pandolfi being harassed, freshman point guard Marko Masakayan stepped up with consecutive three-pointers to help tie the score at 29.

But the Bears didn't have much offense left for the final eight minutes. "It wasn't that we turned the ball over," Hickey said. "We just didn't knock down shots."

Pandolfi scored 15 points and Logan Vimont had nine points and seven rebounds for a team that won its first-ever Long Island championship. "This is the farthest we've ever been," Hickey said of reaching the regional final. "Glens Falls would've been a big deal for us."

That's where Blind Brook (16-7) is headed for a state semifinal on Friday - and where Vimont, a senior, very much wanted to go. He clearly was forlorn as he shuffled out of the locker room after commiserating with his teammates.

"I know we've had a successful season, but I'm not thinking about that," he said softly. "I'm kind of sad right now. We were expecting to go places this year, so this is definitely disappointing."

For the coach, too. "This was a special group of kids. I feel bad for them," said Hickey, in his 22nd season. The Bears got a little respect on Long Island, but they wanted to find out what it means to go upstate.

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