Port wins a stunner over Massapequa, as Andrew Levy became the local hero of the moment for the varsity basketball squad last Tuesday evening. He hit the winning basket in overtime to lead Port over Massapequa in a tenuous contest that witnessed a series of ups and downs that didn't always look as if it would go in Port's favor. Pat Mulqueen led the Vikings with 21 points (including seven from the free throw line and two threes) behind a multi-faceted offensive attack. The Vikings maintained a swarming defense throughout the game despite some ineffective match-ups at times.
Massapequa got off to a fine start by etching out 11 points in the first quarter compared to a dismal eight for the Vikings. Port has had a history of slow starts, and against a sharp shooting team like Massapequa, that can spell doom before the first half buzzer sounds. Both DiMartino and DeRossi led the visitors in a hard fought battle of speed and size against a Port club that relies heavily on versatility. These opposing foes converted 22 and 16 points respectively, and the Vikings had to keep the rest of the players in check to guard against any possible blowout.
Ross played a pivotal role as he finished with 14 points including a three-pointer and nine points from the stripe. The Vikings began to take command of the game in the second and third quarters as they outscored Massapequa 29-24 over that stretch of time. Their big men, Ferrucci and Guillaume down below, made certain that the visitors didn't take off on a serious run, and when you consider their strong first quarter, Massapequa was held off the dribble during the middle of the game. Even with the tightly wound play of the Vikings in the heart of the second and third quarters, they could only manage to head into the fourth quarter with a miniscule two-point lead at 37-35. The Vikings were prepared to head off another Massapequa run, but it wouldn't take them out of their game plan.
Massapequa went back to their key shooters in the fourth period, and stayed within striking distance the entire quarter. The Vikings met them with every challenge off of the boards and with dribble penetration of their own. Some crucial missed free throws and some poorly timed fouls allowed Massapequa to tie the game before the end of regulation, and this game would have to be decided in overtime. Massapequa stayed with Port toe-to-toe in overtime but clutch threes by Ross and Mulqueen kept them at bay and set the Vikings up their dramatics. Andrew Levy hit the money shot with a mere three seconds left, and the hometown boys skirted away with a well-deserved 'W' in nail-biting see-saw contest.
The Vikings outdid themselves after Tuesday's heart-stopping victory over Massapequa by defeating a very tough Great Neck South club this time in double overtime, 81-77 last Friday evening at the Arnie Sims Invitational at Manhasset. The Vikings assembled many clutch shots and passes in what proved to be one of the most exciting games in recent memory. The Vikings have many of their pivotal players returning to action this winter, and given that the Rebels gave these guys fits last year, this victory may be a portent of good fortune for the upcoming campaign. Great Neck South got off to their usual quick starts by putting up 13 in the first quarter compared to Port's eight. Jeremy Antar led the Rebels with 26 points, and Cohen who went for 20 points of his own on the day.
The story of the evening was the Viking effort that saw them overcome a 28-23 halftime deficit to rally in the final period, the overtime period, and yet again in double overtime. With crisp passes, pick and rolls, and timely board play, the Vikings let the Rebels know that they were going to be hard to beat this year. Ray Ross led the locals with 20 points including two buckets from behind the arc. When the Rebels got off to their lead, the Vikings showed poise and clamped down on defense by not allowing the easy drive down the lane. Their big man Ferrucci was able to plug up the middle, and put in eight points of his own on offense.
The Vikings headed into the final quarter down by only a deuce, but the way the Rebels were hitting their jump shots, a two-point deficit could easily have translated into a 12-point deficit under the right circumstances. The team plays a good transition offense, but the Vikings were able to counter with a ubiquitous defense that compelled the Rebels to earn every point. Mandelkern and Guillaume played key roles by dumping in nine and eight points respectively, and it was the full contingent of Port's offensive that enable them to look for different weapons at various moments in the contest.
The critical plays came down the stretch when the Vikings displayed a little calm and a great deal of maturity. Andrew Levy showcased much of the aforementioned poise when he hit a critical free throw with a mere seven ticks left on the clock to force the game into overtime. The Vikings reminded us a little of the recent Yankee theatrics yet again in the first overtime period when Pat Mulqueen drained a three with nine seconds left. This deft shot from downtown again tied the score and sent the game into double overtime. Port took over in the second overtime with a 6-0 run that gave them the lead for good. Brian Rosenberg put back a pivotal rebound (to give him 12 for the game), and the Vikings were assured a victory that they played one and a half games to get. This kind of game was inspiring and it's the kind of basketball that will keep the Port faithful coming back for all season long.