Elmont wins L.I. championship as time expires

Arlyn Brown's buzzer-beater wins it for Spartans


Just in case the situation presented itself in the Long Island Class AA boys’ basketball championship game, Elmont head coach Ryan Straub introduced an inbounds play at Friday’s practice where the Spartans had just a few seconds from midcourt to execute a shot.

So when Straub called timeout Saturday afternoon with 2.6 seconds remaining in regulation and the score tied at 51, it was go time.

And junior Arlyn Brown delivered. He took the inbounds pass from senior Gemere Frias-Walsh, dribbled twice and lofted a shot just inside the three-point line that banked in as time expired, giving Elmont an astounding 53-51 victory over Half Hollow Hills East before a crowd of more than 3,500 at Farmingdale State College.

“It wasn’t exactly how we drew it up, but once Gemere got me the ball I knew there wasn’t much time and I had to make a play,” Brown said. “The shot felt good off my fingertips. I still can’t believe it went in. It was a dream ending jumping around with all my teammates and fans on the court.”

Seniors Nassir Edwards (14) and Osagie Ekhator (11) scored in double figures and senior Cassius Moore added 8 points for Elmont (21-4), which captured its first L.I. title since the 2015-16 campaign and advances to face either Victor or Jamestown in the state Class AA semifinals on Friday at 2:15 p.m. at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls.

“Our first two options weren’t available, but after a few of their guys converged on Cassius we got the ball inbounds and Arlyn made a heck of a play and a heck of a shot,” Straub said. “The moment wasn’t too big for him and it was just an unbelievable finish.”

Edwards was on the bench with his hands covering his eyes when the winning basket dropped. “I couldn’t watch and was just praying we weren’t going to overtime,” he said. “Fans started screaming and everyone was running on the court when I looked up.”

Brown’s shot was Elmont’s second buzzer-beater of the game. Moore set up a Frias-Walsh basket just before the horn to end the first quarter as the Spartans raced to a 16-11 lead despite Ekhator and junior Ebubenna Nwabudu both saddled with two personal fouls.

“I’m so proud of these guys,” Straub said. “They’ve worked so hard all season and have that next-man up mentality that’s so important. It was tough having our two bigs with two fouls early, but we just kept at it.”

Behind juniors Jordan Cador (14 points) and Brandon Varlack (13), Hills East not only chipped away at the deficit but scored nine of the last 11 points of the second quarter to grab a 28-23 lead at halftime.

Moore said the message during intermission was to trust the game plan and continue to battle. “Hills East is a hard-working team and we knew we had to work even harder,” he said.

The Thunderbirds (19-5) held their largest lead of seven midway through the third quarter when a three-pointer by Ekhator ignited an 11-2 Elmont run that resulted in the Spartans’ taking a 40-38 lead into the fourth. Ekhator (seven) and Edwards combined for 13 points in the third.

“Our seniors didn’t want their high school basketball careers to end,” Straub said.

Elmont never trailed in the fourth quarter but broke three deadlocks in the final 2:26. Moore and Nwabudu both hit a pair of clutch free throws before Brown hit a shot that’ll forever be a part of Long Island basketball history.

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