Defense wins championships, especially when you don’t allow any points in the final 11 minutes and 25 seconds as Elmont did Sunday afternoon on the way to beating Harborfields, 41-32, for the Long Island Class A boys’ basketball title before a crowd of 2,750 at LIU Post.
The Spartans, who trailed by as many as five points in the third quarter, scored the last dozen of the game to avenge a one-point loss to Harborfields in the Nassau-Suffolk Challenge on Jan. 16 and capture their first-ever L.I. crown. Senior Jalen Burgess poured in a game-high 16 points, including a clutch trey with 3:45 remaining to extend the lead to seven.
“It feels great to redeem ourselves after they beat us earlier in the season when I missed two free throws at the end,” Burgess said. “I’m glad we won the one that really counted.
“I didn’t realize they didn’t score in the fourth quarter,” he added. “We always take pride in defense.”
Elmont head coach George Holub, whose pet peeve is to hold opponents under 50, was also unaware of his team’s defensive perfection after Nick Mitchell’s backdoor layup gave the Tornadoes a 32-29 lead with 3:25 left in the third quarter.
“I had no idea,” Holub said. “But it’s a testament to these kids. We preach defense. We play a zone but we match up so well it looks like a man-to-man. We needed to step up and stop their outside shots.”
Travis Robinson-Morgan added nine points, Yasir Lawrence had eight, and KC Ndefo chipped in six for the Spartans (21-3), who advance to the state Class A Final Four in Glens Falls. They’ll face Byram Hills (Section I) on Saturday at 10:45 a.m.