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Boys’ Basketball Wins Thriller over Port Jeff

February 3, 2011

In the second installment of the North Shore War in less than a week, the Bears were again the victors, pulling out a thrilling 59-52 victory that had huge implications in League VIII. Last Friday night, Tim Pandolfi had a game to remember, scoring 38 points (including his 1,000th) in leading the Brook to a 71-43 rout of the Royals. The boys knew today would be different though since Port Jeff’s Terrell Rose would be back in the lineup, however, the Bears withstood a fierce battle with their crosstown rival to stay deadlocked with Greenport atop the league. Tim Pandolfi again proved he shines brightest in the biggest games, leading all scorers with 26, giving him 64 points against Port Jeff on the season.

1st Quarter

The game’s early moments were eerily similar to how Friday night’s match-up began. On Friday, the Royals opened up on an 8-2 run and this evening they began with a 9-2 surge that prompted coach Mike Hickey to call a timeout and calm his troops. Jerome Washington followed with a tough layup, but Port Jeff answered with a 3-pointer to extend their lead to 12-4. The Royals’ defense was aggressive early and seemed determined to stymie Pandolfi’s perimeter shooting, however, you can only stop Long Island’s most prolific scorer for so long. After a big 3-pointer by Kai Strachan, Pandolfi followed with an and-1 that cut the deficit to 10-12. Port Jeff scored on their next possession, but the Bears closed on a 5-0 run, courtesy of a Strachan basket and Pandolfi’s first of five 3-pointers, to steal an unlikely 15-14 edge after one. | 15-14

2nd Quarter

The second quarter had the feeling of two boxers familiarizing themselves with each other, trying to land a few jabs but biding their time while the fight was still in the early stages. At one point the lead changed on three consecutive possessions as both defenses tried to figure the other team out. Pandolfi caught fire in the frame, drilling two 3-pointers and finishing a very difficult layup. Forrest Hull provided some huge minutes while Washington had to sit down with foul trouble, scoring two big layups that each seemed to stem a Royal run. Pandolfi finished the half with 16 points, but it was the penetration and inside scoring of Port Jeff that gave them the halftime advantage. | 30-33

3rd Quarter

The third frame began with Port Jeff scoring the first 6 points to build their largest lead of the game. Farqu Taylor finally broke the ice for the Brook with a much-needed layup, but the Royals scored again to push the lead back to 9. Strachan followed with a difficult bank shot in the lane and Marco Masakayan, playing on a tender ankle, drilled a big 3-pointer to bring the Blue and White back within striking distance. Port Jeff’s Rose followed with two missed free throws, but the Royals would score on their next possession for a 43-37 edge. Needing a run before the decisive quarter, the Bears ratcheted up the defense and used an 8-2 spurt to knot the game at 45-45 after three quarters. Strachan began the run with another tough basket in traffic then, after Richie Armand stole the ensuing in-bounds pass, Pandolfi connected on his fourth 3-pointer to cut the deficit to a point. Port Jeff scored to go up 45-42, but Masakayan drilled a second clutch trifecta with a man in his face to bring the Bears all the way back from 9 points down. | 45-45

4th Quarter

The Royals scored first for the fourth straight quarter, but after the Brook press forced a turnover they methodically began wresting the game’s momentum away from the home team. Both teams exchanged a free throw, then, in one of the game’s turning points, Masakayan drew a charge on Rose that erased a basket and gave the ball back to the Bears. On the ensuing possession, Pandolfi hit one of the shots of the game. After beating the first layer of the zone he planted at the foul line, jumped, hung in midair, double-clutched his shot and finished an impossibly difficult, lefty shot that knotted the score at 48-48. After a stop by the Bears, Masakayan drilled an almost identical 3-pointer to his first two, with a hand in his face, to give the Bears their first lead since early in the second frame.  A 4-0 run by Port Jeff gave them the lead back, but this night belonged to Pandolfi who on the very next possession hit the biggest shot of the night, a 3-pointer off the dribble that gave the lead back to the Brook for good.

Clinging to a 54-52 lead, Armand came up with a clutch steal and the Bears set about draining the clock. After a lengthy possession, Pandolfi missed a runner in the lane, but Strachan came up with a very important offensive rebound to give the Blue and White a new 35-second shot clock. The Bears worked the time down to just over a minute when Pandolfi drove to the middle, jumped, and passed the ball out to Masakayan. Masakayan airballed the shot, but Taylor came up with the biggest rebound of the game and dropped in the layup to push the lead to 56-52. Strachan followed with a theft on the Royals’ next possession, but the Bears came up empty on their end. The Bears again got a stop and Port Jeff found themselves in the odd position of not having enough fouls to stop the clock and put the Bears on the line. They had to foul the Brook five times to finally give them a 1-and-1, but in doing so Pandolfi was able to dribble nearly 20 seconds of vital time off of the clock. Strachan connected on a free throw and Pandolfi hit both of his to provide the winning margin to the delight of the raucous junior varsity squad that had stuck around to cheer on the big boys. | 59-52

Impressions

It was a huge win. It was also a victory in which everyone played a big role. Pandolfi hit big shot after big shot every time the Bears needed one. Strachan hit some clutch shots to keep the game close in the third quarter and made some huge hustle plays in the fourth quarter. Masakayan showed the heart of a lion, overcoming a painful ankle to hit three important trifectas. Hull played some important minutes and just flat out did his job. Though undersized, he scored two big layups inside and seemingly faked out the entire Port Jeff team with every pump fake. Armand, though no points will appear next to his name, was the unsung hero. His defense on Rose was excellent, his control of the offense was vital, and his clutch steals in the fourth quarter helped seal the win. Taylor just kept battling tonight. Though his shot was shaky early, he came up with one of the most important plays of the game that turned a potential nail-biter into a more comfortable win. Washington scored two very difficult shots early and was a big presence in the middle on defense. It was a total team effort that helped the Bears improve to 7-1 in the league, keeping their hopes of their first League Championship since 2007 intact. Their next matchup is tomorrow night vs. the Ross School @ 7:30pm.

Notes

The win was the 231st win of coach Mike Hickey’s career as he moves to 8-7 all-time against Port Jeff… Tim Pandolfi is 1st on Long Island in scoring with 27.5 points per game… Pandolfi’s 26 points also left him just 1 point shy of Jonas Fischer ’94 and his 1,060 career points… The junior varsity also defeated Port Jeff 45-27 to remain in a tie for first place in the league.

 

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