Elmont tops East Meadow in quarterfinals


The Elmont boys’ basketball team remembers the feeling of losing in the Nassau County semifinals last season.

“We were all there when we lost,” Cassius Moore said. “We know the emotions we had, and we turned that into motivation. We put in the work day in and day out and live with the results.”

On Tuesday afternoon, the results fell in Elmont's favor as it went on the road and defeated East Meadow in front of a packed house by a final of 80-54 in a Class AA quarterfinal playoff matchup.

Moore led the fifth-seeded Spartans with 26 points, knocking down five field goals, including four from beyond the three-point arc.

“He’s scoring the ball, and he’s also locked in on defense,” Elmont head coach Ryan Straub said. “Obviously, he’s scoring from all over the place, but he’s making everybody around him better.”

Elmont had four players score in double figures as Ebubenna Nwabudu contributed 11 points, while Nassir Edwards and Osagie Ekhator tacked on 10 each. But the offense didn’t come easily to start.

In a highly physical contest, Elmont and East Meadow traded blows early as the much smaller Jets stepped up to the Spartans from the opening tip.

“That's what we do to everybody,” East Meadow head coach Tom Rottkamp said. “We try to attack the rim and then cave the defense in and kick it out to our three-point shooters.”

Point guard Will Casseus led fourth-seeded East Meadow with 14 points, flying around the floor before darting to the rim, where has was able to finish with both hands.

But near the end of the half, Elmont’s size and use of the full-court press was too much for East Meadow to handle. Methodically, the Spartans broke down the Jets (16-6) bit by bit and eventually pulled away with a 12-0 run in the third quarter.

“Everything starts with defense for us,” senior Kymani Dias said. “We got to make sure our defense is very good so we can turn it into offense.”

Although he was limited to just nine points, Dias provided the exclamation for Elmont as he ran in from the corner and soared through the air, slamming home an alley-oop feed from Moore late in the game.

“I was hyped, but I see it all the time in practice,” Moore said. “He's the most athletic dude on the team. I just throw it up there and watch him go get it.”

With their season now over, the young East Meadow squad now sits where Elmont once was: defeated but motivated for more.

“It’s historic for this school to get to this level,” Rottkamp said. “You saw the size of the crowd. Let's face it, I'm coming back with 10 Seniors next year, all with great experience at this level. This is only the first half of the process.”

Meanwhile, Elmont (18-4) carries on and will face Conference AA4 rival Sewhanaka in the semifinals next Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Farmingdale State College, still trying to make up for last year.

“We talk about it, but, of course, you got to take it one game at a time,” Straub said. “We have big goals. We’re focused on making a run to the championship.”