Written by Vinny Messana Wednesday, 05 March 2014 00:00
After a recent 45-37 win over the top-seeded team from Baldwin, the Farmingdale High School Boys Varsity Basketball team will be heading to the Nassau County ‘AA’ conference finals. According to Head Coach Jim Pastier, this is the first time since 2002 that the Dalers have advanced to the county finals.
“Nobody gave us a shot since before the season,” said senior Malik Seelal, directly following the victory over Baldwin. “That was our motivation.”
Curtis Jenkins, who led the Dalers’ squad in scoring throughout the regular season, was held to an uncharacteristic seven points, meanwhile Ron Winkler carried the load with a tremendous 15 point and 14 rebound performance.
“My teammates kept getting me the ball,” said Winkler, who is only in his third season of organized basketball. “I kept slipping past the defender and they kept finding me.” Even more impressive than his offensive performance was the way he patrolled the interior against the reigning Nassau County champions. In fact, the Dalers held the Bruins to single-digit points in the first three quarters before they scored 18 when the game was essentially decided.
Winkler, who is a slender 6’7”, was matched up against Paul Nosworthy. The Bruins center is three inches shorter but much thicker than Winkler. The Dalers’ big man did not appear overmatched at all, and held Nosworthy to only 10 points, most of which came on foul shots.
“We practiced that all week,” he said. “We’re always working on boxing out,” he said in reference to handling a much heavier opponent.
The Dalers controlled the entire game. After Winkler scored the first basket of the day, they never trailed at any point. They held the high-octane offense of Baldwin, led by sophomore Shane Gatling and senior Miking Richardson, to a mere four points in the first quarter.
The Baldwin fans, who sat directly over the Farmingdale bench and heckled condescending comments at players, were muted to a dull roar after the dismal performance of the Bruins. The second half featured more of the same; defense and intensity. The Dalers were
fired up and players like Jack Burke and Curtis Jenkins were causing havoc on the perimeter, with Dallas Creamer and Winkler locking down the interior. Even with Jenkins missing his first five shots of the day and being held scoreless at half, the Dalers held an 18-10 lead at half.
They were given a brief scare in the third quarter when the offense went stagnant, turning the ball over a plethora of times—both forced and unforced. The frustration was mounting, especially when a routine inbounds pass was thrown into the backcourt to cause a turnover. The lead was cut to 26-19 after three quarters.
Right off the bat, Baldwin cut the lead to 26-21 after two free throws from Nosworthy and it appeared the fourth quarter may have a different feel. The leaders on the Dalers stopped the momentum shift with a sequence of events when Dan McKeon hit a clutch three pointer and followed that up by taking a charge. Both teams exchanged baskets, but Seelal took control by making two clutch free throws with 2:00 remaining to put the icing on the cake.
Despite being the No. 4 seed against No. 1, Head Coach Pastier did not think of his team as the underdog.
“This is the third final-four for these seniors,” Pastier said. “The past two they’ve came up a little short, but they know what it’s about.”
With the win, the Dalers will advance to the Nassau County ‘AA’ conference finals against Uniondale at 3:30 p.m. at Adelphi University.