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Gabe Lefkowitz, Great Neck South close with flourish to beat Calhoun

Great Neck South's Gabe Lefkowitz shoots a free

Great Neck South's Gabe Lefkowitz shoots a free throw during a Nassau boys basketball game against Calhoun at Great Neck South on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

Great Neck South got off to such a blazing start, it looked like Calhoun was finished.

The Rebels scored the game’s first 16 points and nearly pitched a shutout in the first quarter. But what began as a laugher quickly turned serious and host Great Neck South needed a big fourth quarter to defeat Calhoun, 60-48, on Wednesday night in a dual for first place in Nassau AA-III.

“At the beginning, we were patient on offense and got defensive rebounds,” Great Neck South coach Steve Liebertz said. “In the second quarter, they got more aggressive.”

Indeed, after trailing 16-2 at the end of one, the Colts went on their own run, scoring 12 straight points and actually grabbing a 22-21 lead after Bobby Stokel made a steal and layup. Jalen Rosemond hit two free throws moments later for a 24-23 lead, but Sheldon Henry’s three from the corner gave the Rebels a 26-24 halftime lead they never relinquished.

Gabe Lefkowitz (19 points, 10 rebounds) and Jason Goldstein (15 points, four assists, five rebounds) had big second halves as Great Neck South improved to 8-1. Rosemond (18 points) and Stokel (16 points) led the Colts (7-3).

“It’s all about momentum,” Lefkowitz said. “A lot can change in a game. We let up some second-chance shots in the second quarter and they dictated the play. We dictated in the fourth quarter.”

That’s when Great Neck South, which clung to a 41-37 lead entering the final period, showed patience on offense, making the extra pass to set up some easy baskets and slowly pull away. Goldstein twice found his friend Lefkowitz down low for layups that keyed the Rebels’ burst. “We’ve been playing together for years,” Lefkowitz said. “I know where he likes to be; he knows where I like to be.”

They both would like to be league champions. “They beat us last year at home when we could’ve tied for the league title,” Goldstein said of a loss on the final day of the regular season. “So we thought this was the biggest game of the year.”

All the Rebels’ starters contributed. Henry had 10 points and eight rebounds; Tyler Witt ran the offense and totaled five assists and David Sabzehroo got free for two three-pointers and eight of his 11 points in the decisive fourth quarter.

“We finally found David a couple of times,” Goldstein said. “When we do that, something good usually happens. We were running our offense and looking for good shots.”

The Rebels’ prospered with patience. “Styles and opponents dictate how we’ll play,” Liebertz said. “I’d love to run more, but I want us to be patient if we can’t run.”

At least they had a running start.

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