Dominic Obukwelu of Valley Stream North pulls down the rebound...

Dominic Obukwelu of Valley Stream North pulls down the rebound during a Nassau Conference A-VI boys basketball game against Floral Park on Thursday at Valley Stream North. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

When Dominic Obukwelu secured a defensive rebound with 15 seconds left in the second overtime period and the score tied, there was no hesitation. The Valley Stream North senior had been an integral part of the Spartans forcing overtime, often with him finishing the baskets himself.

But this time, he took two dribbles and fired a pass to one of the youngest players on the court — Vincent Rienzie. The sophomore guard caught the pass in stride and finished a layup over a taller defender with 11 seconds left in double overtime for the game’s final points as host Valley Stream North defeated Floral Park, 56-54, in Nassau Conference A-VI boys basketball on Thursday.

“My first instinct is always just to go,” Obukwelu said. “I have trust in all my teammates. They’re young, but I have really good trust in them so if I see them open, I’m going to throw them the ball every time.”

Rienzie was ready and didn’t shy away from the moment despite only being a sophomore.

“This was fun,” Rienzie said. “I watched these games when I was younger and now to be a part of it and with all my hard work in the summer, it’s paying off.”

Valley Stream North (5-0) outscored Floral Park, 13-8, in the fourth quarter to force overtime. Obukwelu scored eight of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, including a three-pointer from the top of the key to cut Floral Park’s lead to 42-41 with 1:40 left.

“That felt really good, I didn’t really get many shots in the first half, but that felt really good when I released it,” Obukwelu said. “When it went in, my confidence just picked back up and I was able to keep producing.”

The senior later scored off a spin move in the paint with 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter to give Valley Stream North a 43-42 lead. He also made a foul shot with 11.5 seconds left before Floral Park’s Ryan Connolly found Kevin Cannon on a perfectly-placed inbounds pass lobbed from just in front of midcourt, resulting in a Cannon layup with 4.2 seconds left to tie the score at 44 and force overtime.

Floral Park (2-2) scored the final five points of the first overtime period, including Connolly knocking down two foul shots with 16.8 seconds left to force a second overtime.

Rienzie and Tristan Mitchell each had 14 points for Valley Stream North. Anthony Caris had 20 points for Floral Park.

“It was fun,” Obukwelu said. “I’ve never been in a double-overtime game in my life. It started off slow, I was in foul trouble early so I didn’t really play much but it’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish so I’m glad we were able to close it out. This was the game we needed, this is a good team, so I’m happy we won.”

Rienzie scored 10 of his 14 points in the second quarter while coming off the bench. Floral Park led 11-5 after the first quarter before the Spartans trimmed that lead to 24-21 at halftime.

“My team was kind of getting slow and coming off the bench, I felt like we didn’t have enough energy, so I felt like I needed to be that spark, especially on defense,” Rienzie said. “It’s something I take pride in.”

“He’s ready for these moments,” coach Michael McVeigh said. “He came to play and it was just so fun watching him fly around and hit some big shots for us.”

Jalen Harrison added nine points and Danny Kosior had five points and key offensive rebounds late in the win. Kosior had an offensive rebound before Obukwelu’s go-ahead shot late in the fourth quarter and an offensive rebound before Harrison made a three-pointer to give Valley Stream North a 54-51 lead with 2:15 left in the second overtime period.

When Obukwelu attended a Floral Park game this season, he was expecting a tough test when they played head-to-head.

“I went and saw one of their games and I knew from the jump that this was going to be the team we needed to really play against,” he said. “I’m just glad we were able to close it out.”


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