For the second time in school history, Manhasset Secondary School’s boys’ basketball team will compete in the state semifinals, after an 85-69 victory Sunday at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum.
The team, led by five senior starters, took on Wyandanch High School Sunday for the Nassau Class A Long Island Championship. After a four-point deficit at the end of the first quarter, Manhasset began gaining on Wyandanch, a momentum that culminated in 12 more points scored than Wyandanch in the fourth quarter.
“The county was one thing because we won counties in 2011, and that was like the fourth time, but this is a whole other level of history for Manhasset,” said senior starter John Mastando.
The team will take on Poughkeepsie at Binghamton’s Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena Friday.
Sophomore Ahmad Crowell said he anticipates a close game given the stakes.
“It’s going to be a good game because both teams made it this far,” Crowell said. “I’m not saying we’re going to lose, though.”
The game is the penultimate step to winning the state. The last time Manhasset did so was in 1986, said coach George Bruns.
A crowd turned out to support the team at the coliseum Sunday, Mastando said.
Manhasset had prepared to challenge Wyandanch’s strategy, which relies heavily on three-pointers, he said. But Manhasset also played efficient offense, which helped it achieve its victory.
Senior Tom Santella had the team’s scoring high of 21 points.
This year’s group thrives on teamwork, Bruns said. The players are not the tallest, and no single player is routinely a standout, he said.
“It’s a team that you never know where the offense is coming from, but there’s always somebody there to pick up the pace,” said Bruns.
Assistant coach Stu Goldman, who lives in Old Westbury, said that despite the high the players feel coming off of their latest win, it’s important to focus on the next challenge.
“Everybody feels really good that we won the Long Island Championship,” he said. “It’s a great thing to do. We’ve had a great season, so we have to put that behind us, not think about that, and get on to the next job, which is winning the state semifinal.”
The winner of the semifinal advances to the finals Saturday at 7 p.m.
Regardless of whether the team wins, Mastando said he was looking forward to missing a couple days of school.