One year ago, Tom Browne was in the most helpless position an athlete can imagine — sitting on the bench nursing an injury. And when your team is struggling, an injury has a way of feeling even worse.
“It’s tough watching and not being able to be on the floor and help your team, especially when they’re losing,” he said. “But you kind of get experience just watching the game.”
After a six-win 2015-16 season, he helped the No. 2 Carle Place boys basketball team to a 58-52 win over No. 3 Malverne in a Nassau Class B semifinal Sunday at Hofstra.
Carle Place (11-9) will play No. 1 Oyster Bay (11-9) for the county title at 2:30 p.m. Thursday at SUNY Old Westbury. “It’s amazing,” said Nate Armstrong, who had 11 points. “It’s what we’ve wanted all season.”
Browne was the floor general throughout the game and finished as the leading scorer with 19 points. Creating plays off the dribble and defensively, Browne constantly found the hot hand — at times his own.
To start, it was Matt Morrison, who scored 10 of his 15 points in the first 10 minutes.
“Always comes down to this kid,” Morrison said of Browne. “He gets me the ball every time. When I’m open, he finds me. That’s how it happens.”
Even Browne has surprised himself this season. With experienced forwards in Chris Ruscillo and Chris Kelly along with Armstrong and Morrison on the wings, it’s Browne’s job to orchestrate the offense.
“I didn’t think I was going to be in this big of a role,” Browne said, “but anything I can do to help the team.”
Carle Place opened a 34-19 lead. Malverne (8-12), which was led by Mike James’ 19 points, pulled within four with 2:20 left, but Armstrong’s three-point play extended the Frogs’ lead to 55-48 with 1:10 remaining.
Carle Place secured the win when Ruscillo and Kelly pulled down offensive rebounds off missed free throws.
“I think it was pretty big, but I can count on my teammates,” Armstrong said. “Those rebounds on the free throws at the end were huge. We wouldn’t have won without those either.”