Elmont captures NYS Class AA championship


Defensive versatility, strong rebounding, streaky scoring and composure when trailing made Elmont the last team standing in New York State Class AA boys’ basketball.

The Spartans captured their second state title in program history Saturday night, defeating West Genessee, 51-44, in the championship game at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls behind senior Cassius Moore’s 24 points and senior Gemere Frias-Walsh's 10.

It was Elmont’s 23rd victory in 27 games and first state crown since the 2015-16 campaign.

“Our kids were talking state championship from the jump and they made it a reality," head coach Ryan Straub said. “Ever since we lost in the county semifinals last season, they were on a mission. They wanted to become the best Elmont team ever.”

Moore scored 11 points in the third quarter and was the catalyst of an offense with a long list of contributors. Senior Osagie Ekhator and juniors Ebubenna Nwabudu and Arlyn Brown, who hit the game-winning shot at the buzzer in Elmont’s Long Island Class AA title game victory over Half Hollow Hills East, all chipped in 4 points.

“It feels great and will probably take a while to fully sink it,” Moore said. “We’ve all put in so much work since last summer. Our goal all season was to win our last game.”

Straub was an assistant coach under head coach George Holub when the Spartans last won a state title. 

“There's a ton of similarities between the two teams, but the bottom line is both were the best of the best and will be remembered forever,” Straub said. “Our ability to constantly change defenses this season, even on the fly, was incredible. This group is so smart and coachable and also worked as hard as any team I’ve seen.”

The Spartans trailed both Friday’s 52-38 semifinal win over Jamestown and the championship game after the first quarter. Jamestown held a 14-7 advantage through eight minutes of the semis, and West Genessee led the final 13-11 before Elmont held the Wildcats to two baskets in the second quarter and built a six-point halftime lead.   

“The first quarter against Jamestown was eye-opening,” Straub said. “They were long, athletic and fast and were hitting everything early. We were able to lock in defensively and I feel we also played a great offensive game after we went down by 10.”

Moore netted 17 points, Ekhator had 10 points and 12 rebounds and Nwabudu added 9 points and 11 rebounds against Jamestown. Junior Nassir Edwards was steady throughout and junior Khalil Muhammad provided a spark off the bench with 6 points.

“Our kids don’t care who scores,” Straub said. “In both games, when we needed a play, we made a play. And it was always collective. Always someone different stepping up.”

 Frias-Walsh said after defeating Jamestown, it was a crash course getting prepared for the championship game. “We watched West Genessee in the semis and also had some film on them,” he said. “It wasn’t as much prep time as we’re used to, but we stuck to the game plan.”

Elmont, which earned the No. 5 seed in Nassau and beat South Side for the county title, loses five seniors, but Frias-Walsh believes the Spartans have an excellent chance to repeat.

“The guys coming back are going to work just as hard,” he said. “We’ve built a great culture.”