When the 2013-14 basketball season got underway, Carey head coach Marty Kelly was hopeful that his team would be among the last four standing when the Nassau Class A boys’ semifinals tipped off at SUNY Old Westbury. Despite injuries to key players, and a tough time getting out of the gate in December, Kelly got his wish.
Senior point guard Dylan DeMeo knocked down a pair of free throws with 8.1 seconds to play in overtime to give No. 9 Carey a dramatic 63-62 win over top-seeded Lawrence in the quarterfinal round of the Class A playoffs on Feb. 18. Lawrence’s Hamed Shamseldin led all scorers with 22 points.
With the win, the Seahawks advanced to the semifinals where they faced No. 4 Valley Stream South on Monday night after presstime. The Falcons, the Conference A-III champions, advanced to the final four by knocking off Seaford in the quarterfinals.
Kelly believes following the blueprint was the key to knocking off the team that many felt was the favorite to win the county championship. “We had a game plan, and we stuck to it,” Kelly said. “This was as athletic a team as I have ever faced. We knew we had to get back on defense, and make them play a half-court game. We turned the ball over more than we wanted to, but the turnovers didn’t lead to easy baskets. We wanted them to have to work for everything they got. They still made some big shots.”
Carey, which improved to 13-6, led for nearly the entire game, and took the floor for the final eight minutes with a 44-36 lead. But the Golden Tornadoes scratched and clawed, and got back into the game. Shamseldin and senior guard Dwayne Daniel led the Lawrence comeback and sent the game into an extra session with the score tied at 56.
The teams traded baskets in overtime until a conventional three-point play by Daniel gave the Golden Tornadoes a 63-62 edge with 21 seconds left. After DeMeo’s clutch free throws, Shamseldin had a good look from the perimeter, but couldn’t find the bottom of the net. Senior Adrian Denner scored 18 points and pulled down 11 rebounds for Carey.
The Seahawks got a solid defensive performance from sophomore Mike Catanese, and strong play in the paint from Tommy Gallant (eight points, 12 rebounds) and Kieran Murchie (16 points). DeMeo finished with 15 points and six assists. Lawrence finished with a record of 17-2.
Kelly isn’t surprised that his team is one win away from playing for the school’s first county title. “When we defend the way we can, we’re capable of playing with anyone,” Kelly said. “This is a big win for us. We beat a really good basketball team. These kids have won at every level, so I’m very happy that they have the opportunity to play in the final four.”
Please visit www.liherald.com for semifinal results. The Class A title game is this Saturday at 1 p.m. at Adelphi University.