On this day 12 years ago, the boys’ basketball team won the second Suffolk County Championship in program history with a thrilling 50-48 victory over undefeated Southold. Here is the recap of the game from Bob Liepa of the Suffolk Times.
Stony Brook’s Pandolfi Shoots Down Southold’s Unbeaten Record
Undefeated regular seasons are great, but this was not the scenario the Southold First Settlers wanted. Their first loss of the season came in their last game.
Tim Pandolfi drilled three 3-point shots in the fourth quarter as The Stony Brook School Bears took the lead from Southold and then held on for a 50-48 triumph in the Suffolk County Class C boys’ basketball final on Saturday at Longwood High School. It is the second county championship in four years for second-seeded Stony Brook (12-3), which did something no other team has been able to do this season: defeat No. 1 Southold (18-1).
It wasn’t easy.
Pandolfi’s shooting touch came in handy. The junior guard rang up a game-high 27 points with five 3-pointers, but his most memorable moments came in the fourth quarter when he scored 12 points. Pandolfi’s final three-pointer from an estimated 35 feet out put Stony Brook ahead to stay, 46-45.
“I started off slow, but as the game [continued] on, I felt it,” said Pandolfi.
After two free throws by Pandolfi, Southold’s Kevin Parma made one foul shot and missed the second. But the First Settlers got the offensive rebound and Parma scored off an attempted shot by teammate Trevor Perry that came up short. That cut Stony Brook’s lead to 49-48 with three seconds to go. Following a timeout, Pandolfi was fouled with 2.2 seconds left. He made the front end of a one-and-one for the game’s final point, but the Bears had to hold their breath as they watched Jon Cepelak of Southold heave the ball three-quarters the length of the court off the backboard as the final buzzer sounded.
Stony Brook players rejoiced while Southold ‘s Gino De Jongh laid motionless on the court, the picture of dejection.
“Words can’t describe how I’m feeling right now,” Pandolfi said. “I’m so happy, I can’t even talk right now.”
If Pandolfi was virtually speechless, imagine how the League VIII champion First Settlers felt upon seeing such a memorable season come to an end.
“In the playoffs you’re 0-0, and one team is going home with a win or a loss,” Southold Coach Jeff Ellis said. “It’s whoever executes better, and they executed better tonight.”
Stony Brook advances to a regional semifinal against the Friends Academy Quakers (12-6) on March 9 at Bay Shore High School. Before that, though, the Bears will play the Greenport Porters (13-6) in the Suffolk Class C/D game on Wednesday at Longwood High School.
Pandolfi provided most of his team’s points. Stony Brook’s next leading scorers were Marco Masakayan, Michael Webster, and Logan Vimont with six each. The 6-foot-6 Vimont, who had suffered what was described as a badly sprained ankle in practice eight days earlier, also hauled in 9 rebounds. Cepelak, a senior playing his last game for Southold , totaled 20 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist and a block. Another senior, Parma, struck for 11 points.
Stony Brook, which had lost twice to Southold during the regular season (including one game by one point), persevered despite seeing one of its starters, Jovan George, foul out with 1:17 remaining in the third quarter.
“We knew it was going to be a battle, a dogfight from the beginning,” said Vimont.
It was a tight game. The largest margin between the teams was six points when Winston Wilcenski hit a three-pointer for a 39-33 Southold lead early in the fourth quarter. But then Pandolfi went to work, shooting Stony Brook to a county title.
“He’s a great player,” Ellis said. “He obviously hit a shot, I think, from the first row of the bleachers. We knew exactly what they were going to do,” he continued. “They knew exactly what we were going to do. It’s just who’s going to execute better, and tonight they did.”
Referring to Pandolfi’s tremendous shooting range, Stony Brook coach Mike Hickey said he couldn’t blame Southold for not defending Pandolfi more tightly from as far out as he was shooting. “You just don’t think a guy is going to put it up from there,” said Hickey. The smile on Hickey’s face afterward said a lot about what the victory meant to him. “Any win is a great win,” he said, “but to beat a good team like Southold obviously is very sweet.”
The Bears went on to beat Greenport, 48-37, in the Suffolk C/D Championship before winning the program’s first Long Island Championship in a 35-29 win over Friends Academy.