Manhasset basketball team falls to Poughkeepsie at state semifinals

Manhasset basketball team falls to Poughkeepsie at state semifinals
Manhasset senior Tom Santella was the team's top scorer at the Class A state semifinals Friday. (Photo courtesy of Maria Mastando)

The outcome of Manhasset’s game at the Class A basketball state semifinals Friday came down to the final few minutes.

It was tight until Poughkeepsie High School pulled away at the very end, bringing the final score to 74-63 and paving the way for Manhasset’s opponent to win the final the next day.

Though Manhasset’s season ended with a loss, the season was an exciting one, said assistant coach Stu Goldman.

“We met all our goals,” he said. “We were Nassau County champions, Long Island champions, state semifinalists. When you’re coaching high school basketball there’s nothing else that you can ask for.”

The team traveled to Binghamton for the semifinals for the first time since 1986, when the school won the state championship. Its county title was the school’s first since 2011.

Senior Tom Santella was Manhasset’s top scorer Friday with 16 points and said that though Manhasset’s defense was strong, Poughkeepsie got rebounds and blocked Manhasset from doing the same.

“I felt like our team definitely had a chance to win it,” he said. “I thought we were going to pull it out eventually and take a lead, but that never happened for us.”

Poughkeepsie players were also a bit taller and stronger than Manhasset’s, which can make more of a difference at the end of a game, coach George Bruns said.

Still, the experience of traveling upstate and playing in another big arena meant a lot to the team, he said.

“It was an experience of a lifetime for most of those guys,” Bruns said. “They’ll never have that again, so it was really special, and we made everyone proud of us I think.”

Without Santella and senior starters Joe LoCurto, John Mastando, Louis Perfetto and Chris Themelis the team is still in good shape, he said.

Sophomore Ahmad Crowell, junior Cole Zaffiro and junior Joe Bush made significant contributions to the team this year and should be strong points for next year’s team as well, he said.

“I’m looking forward to coaching a good group again,” Bruns said. “They’ve paid their dues and now it’ll be their time.”

As for the seniors, they plan to help out in the offseason, Santella said.

The five starters had been playing together since about the second grade, and a historic season after hard work in the offseason meant everything, he said.

“I know the seniors really wanted to do everything we could to get as far as possible for our coaches because we wouldn’t be there without them,” Santella said. “To be able to repay them with a county championship and a Long Island championship and a trip upstate, that felt very good.”

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