Falcons soar into championship game

VSS gets by upset-minded Carey in semis


Valley Stream South is one win away from making history.

Sophomore Hall Elisias scored 14 points and pulled down 18 rebounds as the fourth-seeded Falcons knocked off No. 9 Carey, 55-40, in a Nassau Class A boys’ basketball semifinal at the Clark Athletic Center on the campus of SUNY Old Westbury on Monday evening. Senior Dimitri Badette added 14 points as South’s frontcourt dominated the Seahawks in the paint.

The Falcons (17-3) will face neighboring Hewlett (14-6) for the county championship this Saturday at 1 p.m. at Adelphi University. The No. 6 Bulldogs advanced to the title game with a convincing 82-47 win over Floral Park. South and Hewlett are both seeking their first-ever county championship on the hardwood.

Carey came into the semifinals riding high off an upset of No. 1 Lawrence in the quarterfinals, but there would be no carryover. Elisias set the tone early with dunks on back-to-back possessions that gave the Falcons a quick 10-3 lead.

All five Falcons starters found the bottom of the net in the early going as South continued its dominance and ran out to a 23-10 lead midway through the second quarter.

South head coach Matt Johnsen pointed to the balanced scoring as a key. “We had four players score in double figures,” Johnsen said. “These guys just want to win. They don’t care who scores the points. We look to the guards first to make things happen, and then look for the opportunity to make the entry pass to the bigs. They share the basketball, and find the open man. It’s just a complete group.”

South closed out the half like a boxer trying to land a knockout punch and extended its lead to 29-13 at the break. But, the Seahawks took the floor for the third quarter looking to make it a game. A put back by Tommy Gallant and a long three by Dylan DeMeo cut the lead to 11 just a minute into the second half.

Carey’s resurgence would be short-lived, however, and the Seahawks would never get closer. Badette hit a layup off a beautiful touch pass from William Knight, and Knight followed by burying a trey to make it 34-18. The senior guard finished with 12 points and six assists.

Any chance of late run by Carey was put to rest when Elisias finished off a nifty pass from Dana King (11 points, six assists) with a layup to give the Falcons their largest lead of the night at 39-22. DeMeo scored 14 points to lead the Seahawks. Gallant added 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The South-Hewlett matchup for county supremacy and Mill Road bragging rights (the schools are just 1.75 miles apart) should be an interesting battle. South ended the Bulldogs season in last year’s quarterfinals.

"The journey to get here has been tremendous," Johnsen said. "Hewlett is well-coached, and they're playing very well. It will be a great matchup. I'm real happy for our guys. Nobody really gave them a chance to get here."