Deer Park holds off Bellport in Suffolk AA semifinal
The inbounds play wasn’t even in Deer Park’s playbook. But it sure had a silver lining.
Josh Pismeny slipped free under the basket, took a pass from Keshaun Jones and banked home the key basket as Deer Park held off Bellport, 70-63, on Sunday in a Suffolk Class AA semifinal before a crowd of 1,000 at Farmingdale State.
“It’s a play I saw Wake Forest run against Duke about 10 years ago,” Deer Park coach John McCaffrey said. “We put it in during the huddle. I had another play ready to call, but my assistant reminded me there were only five seconds left on the shot clock.”
So with the Falcons’ 12-point lead having dissipated to 64-63 with 35 seconds left, it was time to be creative.
“We were looking for Malik [Edmead] as the first option, but I figured they would jump to him,” McCaffrey said, referencing the Falcons’ precocious sophomore guard, who was brilliant with 31 points. “It’s the best out-of-bounds play I’ve ever had. It saved the game.”
It also helped move the second-seeded Falcons (20-2) into the Suffolk Class AA championship game against top-seeded Hills East at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Farmingdale State.
Pismeny had 15 points and 11 rebounds and Jones scored 14 points. The Clippers (20-2) were led by Jarell White with 24 points and 14 rebounds. Kyleim Robinson and Jaylen Trent added 11 points each.
Bellport trailed by 16 late in the first half and 59-47 at the start of the fourth, but the Clippers’ pressure defense forced some turnovers and all five starters contributed key baskets in the comeback. Bellport scored the first 10 points of the final quarter to make it 59-57, then crept to within 62-61 on two free throws by Robinson.
Edmead made two of his four clutch free throws down the stretch and Trent answered with a baseline jumper that set up the inbounds play after a Deer Park timeout.
“Coach drew up a great play and Keshaun gave me a great pass,” the ebullient Pismeny said. “We wanted to get it into either Malik’s hands or mine. I slipped the screen.”
Jones looked left to where Edmead was blanketed and delivered to Pismeny. “We set a good screen and he was wide open,” Jones said.
Pismeny was open because Bellport wisely focused on Edmead. “They expected me to get the ball,” said Edmead, who had 18 second-half points, three long-range three-pointers and a handful of crowd-pleasing, blow-by layups off crossover dribbles.
“When I’m feeling it and everything is working, I’m in a zone. When they got it down to one, it was a little scary. But we kept our composure and we kept our confidence.”
They were on the same page.