The upset winds were blowing all over the Nassau County Class A boys’ basketball tournament last week, with the top three seeds all falling on Feb. 18. However, that wasn’t the case the following day in the AA bracket when each of the top four seeds advanced, including No. 2 Elmont thanks to a 69-62 victory at home over No. 10 Massapequa.
The Spartans, who had five players score in double figures, turned the game around in the third quarter after trailing by eight points at halftime. “We showed a lot of resolve,” Elmont head coach George Holub said. “I’m proud of our guys. We made a slight defensive adjustment with our press at the half and it messed them up a little bit. We also did a great job on the boards.”
Tristan Brown scored 18 points to lead Elmont, which advanced to face No. 3 Uniondale in the semifinals on Wednesday night after presstime. It’s the third straight season the Knights and Spartans are meeting in the playoffs. They split the previous two battles. “I’m sure they’ll have something for us, and we’ll have something for them,” Holub said. The winner will play for the Class AA title on Saturday.
Elmont had its hands full with Massapequa, which got a game-high 29 points from Alex Cosenza and 20 from Dylan Balducci. “Tristan and I went to the Carey-Lawrence game and saw the top seed go down,” Holub said of the Class A matchup between the No. 9 and 1 seeds, respectively. “It’s lose and go home. And when you’re a senior that’s it, there’s no tomorrow. Tristan spoke up at halftime and told everyone ‘we’re not going down like this.’”
The Spartans surged ahead by the end of the third quarter, 47-46, after scoring 21. Three of those came off the fingertips of Keith Tompkins (11 points), who brought the house down after taking a pass from Brown. “That was the play that got the momentum on our side for good,” Holub said.
Brett Walker (11), Michael Graham (10), and Chiazam Nwankwo (10) also posted double digits in points for Elmont, which made the outcome more interesting than Holub would’ve liked by going 16-for-27 from the foul line. “Spreading out the offense is something we like to do,” he said. “The free throw shooting almost killed us. We have to be better from the line if we want to advance.”