Elmont likes big courts and big games, Dominique Williams said after the Spartans' 54-45 win over Hewlett last night in a Nassau Class A boys basketball semifinal. The way they covered the large, college-size court at Hofstra did little to refute his statement.
The top-seeded Spartans (18-2), led by Dean Walker's 15 points and Williams' 11, used a relentless pressure defense and quick fast-break bursts to outrun the No. 5 Bulldogs and beat them for the third time this season.
Elmont advances to the Nassau Class A final, where it will play No. 2 Westbury on Saturday at Hofstra at a time to be determined. Wesbury beat third-seeded South Side, 71-61, in overtime in last night's other semifinal.
"Everything changes offensively and defensively," Williams, a senior guard, said of facing Hewlett for a third time. "This game, we really turned up the ball pressure. The other games against them , we were lackadaisical. This was really intense."
Talk about intense. Hewlett coach Bill Dubin said Elmont forced 30 turnovers. "That's a real number," he said. Several were converted quickly into layups or led to free-throw attempts by the Spartans' speedy guards.
Among the more important were two straight fast-break baskets by Walker during a 6-0 run in the fourth that gave Elmont a 43-37 lead with 5:52 remaining.
Until then, neither side had led by more than three. Elmont eventually pulled away, outscoring Hewlett 15-8 in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs (9-11) were led by senior center Michael Eckerle, who had 20 points, but only two in the fourth quarter.
"The last four games have been very similar to this," Elmont coach George Holub said. "We play tough defense and if you keep playing tough defense, sometimes we'll wear a team out."
Elmont used a deep bench - it regularly plays nine or 10 players and had seven score last night - to sustain its frantic pace. Anthony Elechi and Dillon Williams each added eight points. Hewlett, meanwhile, had two players foul out in the fourth quarter as the Spartans kept attacking the rim.
Elmont attempted 15 free throws in the fourth quarter, making seven. Ahead 54-43 with less than a minute left, it made only 1-for-7 from the line to close out the game. But Hewlett couldn't take advantage.
"The plan was to stop them getting to the middle," Dubin said. "We did that for a while, but couldn't sustain the effort."