The past two basketball seasons ended in similar fashion for the Elmont boys. The Spartans advanced to the Nassau Class A semifinals only to see their championship dreams come to a halt.
But, like any good team, the team understood that the key to success was how it handled defeat. The Spartans came back stronger and more determined this season and when opportunity knocked, Elmont answered.
In last Saturday’s semifinal matchup with No.4 Jericho, the top-seeded Spartans put on an offensive show in their 92-64 victory at Farmingdale State College. Gus Louis scored a game-high 20 points and Jevon Santos scored 14 points and dished out nine assists as Elmont (17-4) advanced to the county title game for the first time since 2017.
Eleven players scored for the Spartans who will take on No.3 South Side for the Nassau Class A championship at Farmingdale on Saturday at 5 p.m. The two teams played for county supremacy back in 2017 with Elmont emerging victorious 58-56.
A testament to Elmont's balanced attack was the fact that a different player led the team in scoring in each quarter. “The entire season it’s been all about the team, not one player,” Santos said. “We’re a team that has a lot of 10-point scorers. We don’t care who gets points. We just want to win.”
Dominance was on display all afternoon, from the brilliant rendition of the national anthem by Elmont junior Shawn Springer right up until the fans carried out their traditional “Ellllll-mont” serenade in the waning seconds.
Santos announced his presence early and often. The senior point guard had a hand in each of the team’s first 14 points. A long three by junior Jayden Rayford beat the buzzer to give the Spartans a 25-15 lead at the end of the opening quarter. Louis scored seven points in the second as Elmont opened up a commanding 17-point lead before closing the half at 47-31.
“That’s our thing; we always look to get the ball to the hot hand,” Louis said. “If somebody’s not having a good night, we have so many different options,” Louis said. “We all contribute. It’s always a team effort.”
Any thoughts of a Jericho comeback went away quickly. Senior Jordan Lawson caught fire and scored 11 consecutive points, nine coming on three-pointers, as the Spartans extended their lead to 65-40. Isiah Barnes added 10 points. Steven Gerschwer and Jordan Miller each scored 14 points to lead the Jayhawks.
Giving up 64 points is not the norm for an Elmont team that prides itself on being tough as shoe leather on defense and had yielded an average of just 38 points over its past 12 games.
“We’re going to have to be better on defense in the final,” coach George Holub said. “I attribute some of it to the size of the court and the pace of the game. But, 64 points isn’t good. They’re going to be hearing about that in practice.”