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Boys’ Basketball Shackles Southold

February 14, 2011

This afternoon the boys’ basketball team took another step toward the League VIII Championship with a 53-36 victory over rival Southold. With the win the Bears improve to 12-1 in the league, setting up a huge match-up Wednesday night at Greenport (12-1) @ 6:15pm. Games with Southold are always physical battles and after the Bears won a close 44-40 game on January 18, there was no reason to believe today would be any different. However, the combination of great pressure defense and a run-of-the-mill 25-point performance for Tim Pandolfi, gave our seniors a big win in their final regular season game in Swanson Gymnasium.

1st Quarter

It is rare that you can tell how a game will turn out after the very first possession, but the Bears showed something just 15 seconds into the contest. After Pandolfi missed a 10-foot jumper, Farqu Taylor grabbed the offensive rebound, missed a shot inside, got his own rebound and drew a foul. Though he connected on only one of his two free throws, it signaled to the Settlers that our boys were ready to fight. The Blue and White defense clamped down from the beginning, allowing Southold to score just once in their first six possessions. Back-to-back scores from Jerome Washington and a tough layup and jumper by Pandolfi gave the Brook a 9-4 lead. After a score for the red and white, the Bears held for the last shot. Pandolfi allowed the clock to wind down and, with just a few seconds remaining, he drove to his left, hung in the air, and buried a jumper just before the buzzer to give the Bears some momentum heading into the second frame. | 11-6

2nd Quarter

Kai Strachan continued the blue collar ethic displayed by Taylor by ripping an offensive rebound out of a Settler’s hands at the beginning of the quarter. For the first part of the period the Bears answered every score by Southold. Southold scored to cut the lead to 13-10 and Forrest Hull answered with a bucket. Southold scored to cut the lead to 15-12 and Pandolfi answered with a steal and a 3-pointer that ignited a 9-0 spurt, giving the Brook a comfortable lead they would maintain for the rest of the game. Pandolfi followed with a very difficult, one-handed layup over two Settlers while drawing the foul that pushed the Brooker advantage to 21-12. A 3-pointer by Strachan on the next possession pushed the lead to double-digits for the first time and energized both the players and the fans. Southold tried to cut into the deficit, but four consecutive free throws from Hull slowed the Settler attack. The opposition cut the lead to 28-22, but a rebound and coast-to-coast layup by Richie Armand with just three seconds on the clock proved to be a huge play going into the break. | 30-22

3rd Quarter

Winston Wilcenski, Southold’s biggest scoring threat and the #13 leading scorer on Long Island, led all scorers with 15 points at halftime, which made what the Blue and White defense did to him in the third frame all the more impressive. Armand and Strachan combined to hold the prolific scorer to zero points in the period and the defense held the Settlers to just four points. Pandolfi scored a mere six points in the frame, but it was his ability to control the ball and slice through the Southold defense that made him so devastating. At one point, after Pandolfi drew yet another reach-in foul, Southold coach Jeff Ellis exclaimed to his player, “You’re not gonna get the ball!,” a sentiment that everyone in the gym agreed with. The Bears closed the quarter on an 8-0 run on a tough layup by Pandolfi, two free throws by Taylor, and scores by Marco Masakayan and Hull. The last play of the frame had to be deflating for Southold as Masakayan wore the clock down to single-digits, drove into the lane and dished to an open Hull who scored just before the buzzer, a theme for the Brook this afternoon. With just three seconds left Pandolfi deflected the in-bounds pass right to Armand who nearly drained a floater at the buzzer. The Bears’ play was inspiring. They fought and clawed for every ball in a way that they had not all season. | 42-26

4th Quarter

A 16-point lead seemed like a comfortable enough edge, but after six straight points by Wilcenski the game was far from being decided. However, a 25-foot 3-pointer by Pandolfi that beat the shot clock buzzer may have been the final dagger for the red and white. Strachan followed with an extremely difficult layup, reaching behind him with his back to the basket after snaring yet another offensive rebound. The final nail in the coffin was Pandolfi’s third buzzer-beater of the day as he again won a race with the shot clock, burying a fadeaway mid-range jumper over two Settlers. | 53-36

Pandolfi was clutch, whether he was hitting a basket after dribbling coast-to-coast or sinking a three-point shot. While he spaced out his scoring — connecting for six, six, six, and seven points — in the four quarters, Pandolfi struck for key baskets.

After Southold crept to within 15-12 with 4 minutes 43 seconds left in the second period, Pandolfi hit a three-pointer with 4:04 remaining. Only 21 seconds later, he culminated a three-point play, sinking a foul shot after a driving basket for a 21-12 lead.

“He’s tough,” [Southold coach Jeff] Ellis said. “He can do it all. It will be nice to see him out of the league and that’s respectfully, I mean that. He’s been a great player for many years, has hurt us for many years. It will be nice to come to Stony Brook next year and not have to game-plan against him.”

~ The Suffolk Times 

Impressions

A game with Southold is usually followed with a couple of Advil and a bag of ice. Battles with the Settlers are always physical and a victory over our east end rivals is always a well-earned one. Today was a good test for the boys going into Wednesday’s monumental clash with the Porters. Southold has a way of frustrating teams and obliterating their game plan by simply outworking them and doing the little things better. Today it was the Bears who got all the big steals, all the big rebounds, and all the big shots as they took a third straight game from the Settlers dating back to last year’s County Championship. The win was also important because we may see the Settlers again in the County semifinals on Saturday. For now, it all comes down to Wednesday. A win will give coach Mike Hickey his sixth League Championship and the #1 seed in the Class C playoffs.

Notes

The victory was 236th of coach Mike Hickey’s career as he improved to 20-10 all-time vs. Southold…  Tim Pandolfi is 1st on Long Island in scoring with 27.2 points per game…  The Bears have won eight in a row and 12 of their last 13… The junior varsity also swept the season series with the Settlers, 49-27.

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