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Bears Outlast Port Jeff in OT

January 25, 2018

It took overtime, but the boys’ basketball team continued their reign over their crosstown rivals in a 44-40 victory yesterday afternoon, their 8th straight over the Royals dating back to 2011. In their last match-up, last year’s Class C semifinal, the Bears turned a 13-point second half deficit into a 50-47 victory that propelled them to a 5th consecutive Suffolk County title. This time around it was the Bears who squandered a second half lead, only to come back in the waning moments to send the game to overtime where they outlasted the feisty Royals in a must-win game.

In a low-scoring first quarter the Bears got on the board first thanks to a bucket from James Toney, who saw his first action since sitting the last two games with an injury. An and-1 from Seamus Scanlon and a putback from Jai Narain pushed the Bear advantage to 9-2 before Port Jeff drained a 3-pointer to close the gap. An Owen Sobel free throw gave the Brook a 10-5 lead after one.

The Bears continued to flex their muscles on the offensive boards in the second quarter as Rex Eshirow and Toney scored consecutive putbacks. The Blue and White lead reached a high-water mark for the game at 18-9 after a Narain free throw, but seven straight points pulled the Royals back within a bucket. The Bears responded as Sobel followed a Narain 3-pointer with a buzzer-beater from the left baseline to give the Brook a 23-16 lead at the half.

The Royals opened the half with an 8-2 spurt that closed the gap to 26-24. Neither team would lead by more than four the rest of the way. After a Sobel layup, consecutive buckets from the Royals tied the game at 28-28. Sobel capped the quarter with an offensive rebound and layup to give the Bears a slight 30-28 edge entering the fourth quarter.

The Royals grabbed their first lead of the game on a 3-pointer with 4:09 remaining. An acrobatic layup from Scanlon tied it, but consecutive buckets by the Royals gave the visitors a 38-34 lead with just 2:04 left. With their backs against the wall, the Bears’ championship mettle showed once again. Sobel connected on a runner with 1:48 left. Then, after a key stop, Antonio Rizzo scored his only points of the game on a tough layup with 1:04 on the clock that brought the Swanson faithful to their feet. Those would be the last points of regulation as both teams squandered opportunities to win the game in the closing seconds. The Royals had the final possession and retained control of the ball after a rebound attempt fell out of bounds with 1.8 seconds left. With the ball underneath the Royals’ hoop, Scanlon came up with a huge steal to send the game into overtime.

In the extra period, Sobel battled for yet another offensive rebound, finished a layup through contact, drew a foul, and connected on the free throw to give the Brook a 41-38 lead they would not relinquish. After a Port Jeff bucket, their only points of overtime, Scanlon pulled down an offensive board and dished a gorgeous pass to Sobel who converted the layup for a 43-40 edge. Down the stretch the Bears came up with the stops they needed and Narain iced the game with a free throw in the waning moments to seal the win.

Sobel led the way with 14 points and 11 rebounds while Scanlon (11), Toney (10 points/ 10 rebounds), Narain (5), Eshirow (2), and Rizzo (2) rounded out the scoring.

It was a huge victory for the Bears who began League VII play with three consecutive losses to Class B teams Babylon (#21 in NYS), Center Moriches (#8 in NYS), and Mattituck. While the criteria for playoff contention is a .500 record within league play, smaller teams in a mixed classification league may appeal for a playoff spot. One criterion the placement committee heavily weighs is a team’s record against their own class. After tonight’s win the Bears are 4-1 against Class C teams, with their only loss coming at the hands of Greenport, currently the 5th-ranked Class C team in New York according to the New York State Sportswriters Association. Today’s game had the urgency of a playoff match-up, and once again, in the biggest moments of the biggest games, the Bears came through.

The Blue and White takes the floor again this Friday night in a home match-up with Mattituck.

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