SUFFOLK/SECTION 11 CLASS AA PLAYOFFS
February 18th, 2017
By James Casey
Smithtown West Dominates Lindenhust
One could not blame the Bulls of Smithtown West if they felt somewhat slighted by their seeding in the section 11 AA playoffs. After all, they were the only undefeated League Champion. But as the # 4 seed they may have taken out their disappointment against the # 13 seed, Lindenhurst, of the highly competitive League 2 in Saturday's 68-48 wire to wire win at Smithtown.
The Bulls broke out of the gate on fire with 9-0, 17-2 and finally 22-3 leads, the last of which was on Gordon Schuler's buzzer 3 pointer, one of his four for the game, to end the first quarter. This was the result of the typical balanced scoring led by 6' 3" senior forward, Nick Ferolito, who knocked in 7 of this 13 points to go along with 9 rebounds. The signature Bulls' defense shut down the Bulldogs' high scoring duo of seniors, Arthur Brzozka and one of the U. S.' highest rated football recruits, Jeremy Ruckert. By the time either got untracked, this contest had been decided. West did a fine job of rotating defenders on the powerful Ruckert, constantly forcing the Bulldogs into difficult lob post passes, many of which were deflected or stolen. To Lindy's credit, they came back in the second quarter behind that pair to slice the lead to a seemingly manageable, 29-11 at the half.
But the third stanza saw the same Bulls' buzzsaw that began the tilt. The 24 point quarter was led by Schuler's three 3s and junior guard Chris Crespo's six points. Crespo also led West with 7 assists, most of which came after deft dribble penetration. The lead at the end of three was 53-31.
Again the Bulldogs would not die, but alas they did not have enough firepower this day to offset the strong Bulls' defense, led by senior Kyle Laguardia, who scored only four, but took turns smothering Brzozka or Ruckert, as well as dominating bot backboards with 11 rebounds.
Next up the Bulls will host League 4 champ Deer Park in a strong quarterfinal Tuesday in the most wide open AA playoff in years.
Hills West Rolls
Not only was it unusual for a defending AA County Champ to come into the playoffs as a 7 seed, but this opening round contest pitted those Hills West Colts against League 4 rival Bellport. The seeding committee usually avoids pairing teams in the same league in this early round. The Clippers gave the Colts a struggle, but behind one of the more dominant performances of the year by West's Cam Jordan, the Colts advanced to the quarterfinals with a hard fought 61-49 victory. Jordan had a classic stat sheet stuffer game with 24 points, 17 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 blocks, a rare box score line. A low scoring, tight first quarter, ended at 12-11 Hills West, with Jordan scoring all of his team's points. He put on an offensive display with Euro-step drives and strong offensive rebounds. The second stanza saw him continue his onslaught with another 12, but this time he would get a little help from his friends, as seniors Matt Asenjo, Jovan Williamson as welll as junior Derek Brower, Jr. all contributed. Bellport hung in with 6' 3" soph Jerrell White leading the way with 6 of his 13 points as well as hittting the offensive glass(He ended with 12 rebounds). The half time count was 35-29 in favor of West.
The second half turned Jordan into Magic Johnson with continued dominance, this time through his deft passing. Asenjo scored 8 of his 17 in the third quarter as the Colts created some separation to go ahead 53-40 going into the fourth. Clipper senior guard Marcus Morning valiantly tried to keep the Clippers close with his third 3 pointer, but the defending champs would hold Bellport to 9 points in the fourth stanza as the Colts began the defense of their County Championshp. The final count was 61-49. And guess who awaits the Colts ? Yes, a rematch with last year's finalist, Brentwood, the number 2 seed and league 1 champ. Very different personnel, but it should a compelling quarterfinal at Brentwood on Tuesday.