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On This Day In History | 2008

February 16, 2011

On this day 3 years ago Lou Pizzichillo had a superlative performance in one of coach Mike Hickey’s 10 favorite victories.  The Bears’ dreams of a run to States had been dashed when Mitch Singer went down with an ACL tear in December and entering a Class C semifinal matchup with their old nemesis, the Southold Settlers, the odds stacked against the blue and white were seemingly insurmountable.  The team’s premiere player, Singer, was out.  Adrien Husson, a starter, had been injured in a dirty play vs. the Ross School just 5 days earlier.  A 3rd starter had been separated from the school.  Starting shooting guard Pizzichillo had a respiratory condition and fellow starter Franz Lawrence was fighting through lower back pain.  At full strength the Bears had narrowly beaten the Settlers twice that season, so how could they possibly contend under the circumstances?  In the locker room before the game coach Hickey addressed his battered troops and asked each of them what their favorite memory of the season was.  After a few different responses, senior Eric Duff responded with the answer his coach was looking for:  “This game is going to be my favorite memory,” he boldly said.

The Brook showed their mettle early as they outscored the Settlers 19-10 in the opening quarter behind 12 points from Pizzichillo.  Southold battled back with a 14-13 2nd frame, but the Bears still took an 8 point lead into the break.  As the 2nd half began both teams traded baskets and the Settlers looked poised for a comeback, but Pizzichillo’s 3rd 3-pointer of the game with 21 seconds remaining gave the blue and white a lift heading into the final period.

Pizzichillo and freshman Tim Pandolfi took care of all 19 of the team’s 4th quarter points as they combined for 10 of 11 free throws to help seal the game.  Pizzichillo dropped in 11 more points in the 4th, including his 4th 3-pointer, to give him 30 points, on his birthday no less.  It was an amazing total considering he had totaled just 14 against the Settlers in the 2 regular season matchups.  The incredible, improbable 66-48 upset win is one of coach Hickey’s favorite wins from 23 years of coaching.  Pandolfi finished with 12 points, Eric Duff with 11 and Franz Lawrence with 7.  Aaron Frazier and Fabrice Gaillard were two of the game’s unsung heroes, stepping up in situations they were not used to filling.

Some days you have it, some days you don’t. That night, I had it. Before the game, Uncle Mike [Hickey] took me aside and explained how tough it would be to pull out the victory. I fed off that for the entire game. There’s just something about being the underdog that always energized me. As a team, we really stuck together. We were playing wounded, but the right guys stepped up where they needed to. Every one of those guys had a real “never say die” kind of attitude, and we fought it out to the end. It was unforgettable. When it was over, the entire crowd shouted, “Happy Birthday!” What a blessing it was as my last game in Swanson Gymnasium.

~ Lou Pizzichillo

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Bear

 

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