Salute the captains.
Mike Almonacy had 18 points and five assists and Jamel Allen added 17 points and 13 rebounds as the senior leaders of No. 1 Brentwood led the way to a difficult 61-49 victory over No. 4 Smithtown West on Sunday in the second Suffolk Class AA boys basketball semifinal of the day at Stony Brook’s Island Federal Credit Union Arena.
“We’ve had to do a little more all year,” Almonacy said. “We’re the two-time Suffolk champs and we’re all-Long Island players. We’re captains and there’s a lot of weight on our shoulders.”
The Indians (19-2), who have won the last two Long Island Class AA championships, will go for a third straight Suffolk title against No. 3 Half Hollow Hills West tomorrow night at 7:30 at Suffolk County CC-Brentwood.
The Stony Brook-bound Almonacy, playing on his future home court, made back- to-back three-pointers in the third quarter as Brentwood withstood some rugged inside play by Smithtown West’s Matt English (14 points). Greg Giordano added 11 points for the Bulls, who finished 16-5.
Allen, who also blocked three shots, had a highlight-reel dunk in the first quarter as he made a steal, dribbled coast to coast and slammed it home with one hand. He also rattled in a long-range three-pointer in the fourth quarter that gave Brentwood its largest lead at 54-40.
“We didn’t play our best,” Almonacy said. “They played well. Their zone bothered us a little bit. I think some of it is nerves from our new players in the semifinals for the first time.”
Brentwood has been incorporating three new starters into its lineup, and it’s been a work in progress all season.
“In spots, our defense was good,” Brentwood coach Anthony Jimenez said. “But we haven’t been consistent. To beat Hills West, we’ll need clean possessions. We can’t turn the ball over. The trip to the Final Four is never easy. I like the way Smithtown West played. They were a well-balanced team and they got the ball to the right people in the right spots.”
For Brentwood this season, the right people usually are Almonacy and Allen. But they’ve had help from different players in different games. On Sunday, sophomore guard Lester Quin ones contributed nine points and a new starter, 6-4 junior forward Tyler Carey, had six points in the first quarter and assisted Allen on the boards with nine rebounds.
“I was particularly pleased with Tyler’s performance,” Jimenez said. “He used his big body.”
At Brentwood, there’s always room at the captain’s table.