A sense of urgency takes many forms at this stage of the boys basketball season.
In the case of Port Washington in Wednesday’s Nassau Class AA quarterfinal against Syosset it looked like finger-tip deflections, harassing outside shooters and scrapping for every defensive rebound. The Vikings’ bread-and-butter may be their read-and-react offense, but their underrated defense rescued them as they warded off a Syosset charge for a 58-49 victory.
Port Washington (16-4), the fourth seed, advances to meet No. 1 Uniondale (19-1) in the 4 p.m. semifinal on Sunday at Farmingdale State’s Nold Athletic Complex.
The Vikings seemed to be cruising along after building a nine-point lead in the first quarter behind the three-point shooting of junior forward Dylan Trenaman. The lead was up to 12 during the second quarter and the Vikings were up 32-22 at halftime.
The Braves had other plans. They got two three-pointers by Chris Pettinato and one from Zach Starr to make it 40-40 at the end of the third quarter. Syosset led by one twice in the fourth quarter, last at 47-46 on Drew Breslow’s driving layup with 5:12 to play.
That’s when the host Vikings’ sense of urgency kicked in. Port Washington closed the game with a 12-2 run. Over those last 5:12, Trenaman had five of his 18 points and an assist and senior guard Jalen Griffin had four of his 12 points, two assists and two blocked shots.
“We haven’t been a good third-quarter team, but we’re very confident about closing games out,” Trenaman said. “We’re a team of dogs who trust and rely on each other and (Griffin) can make any play at any time.”
“In that fourth quarter you realize that there may only be minutes left in your season,” Vikings coach Sean Dooley said. “We preach not allowing open three-pointers and drives to the basket and we didn’t do that when they got back in the game.”
Senior center Matt Schmitz added 10 points for Port Washington. Pettinato had a game-high 19 points for Syosset (10-10); his three-pointer with 5:55 left put the Braves up 45-44 for their first lead since 3-0.
Griffin drove for a bank shot and a 48-47 lead with 3:58 left to play. He had a shot blocked, recovered it and put it back in with 2:01 left and found Trenaman with an outlet pass for a layup and a 54-47 lead. The Vikings made four of six free throws in the final minute to seal the victory.
“It was a bad feeling to fall behind but you have to realize every team at this stage is good,” Griffin said. “We got back with defense. Offense is fine but defense wins championships.”