Facing a big team and a big deficit, and with its long-range shooting off-target, the Stony Brook School had only one option: Keep shooting.
"That's what I told them. That's what energizes the team and our crowd," coach Mike Hickey said.
So with more than 500 fans cheering -- many wearing "Blue Fan Group" T-shirts -- the Bears finally came out of hibernation in the fourth quarter Friday night. They scored 13 straight points before finally running out of energy and time in a 39-32 loss to Haldane in the state Southeast Regional Class C final at Suffolk CC-Selden.
"It was over. We were done. Then we made an unbelievable effort," Hickey said.
Indeed, Stony Brook (13-6) trailed 37-17 with about six minutes remaining against a Haldane team that started a 6-7 center, a 6-4 forward and a 6-5 point guard. And the Bears were shooting only 2-for-17 from beyond the arc after missing their first 11.
Then the leadership of senior guards Rob Colarusso (11 points, 1,003 for his career) and Luke Meyer kicked in. Meyer drove into the big men for two layups, Colarusso hit two three-pointers and the Stony Brook press started creating a little havoc.
"Originally, I wanted to slow it down. I didn't want to press. I was concerned the press wouldn't be effective against their height. But they got a big lead and we had to speed up the game," Hickey said of a 22-9 halftime deficit. "But my senior leaders, Rob and Luke, came up huge."
It was tough going against Haldane's 1-2-2 zone, which put 6-7 Edmund Fitzgerald up top and still had plenty of size down low. Nevertheless, promising junior Jyles Etienne blocked four shots against his taller opponents. Junior guard Luke O'Connor, scoreless until the fourth quarter, nailed consecutive three-pointers to bring the crowd to its feet and cut the deficit to 37-28 with 2:05 left.
"Luke has been on fire all year and he just kept shooting and we made it a game," Hickey said.
But in the end, a couple of Bears three-pointers rimmed the basket and Colarusso's layup try also went in and out as precious time ran out.