North Shore boys fall just short in county hoops final

North Shore boys fall just short in county hoops final
North Shore senior Matt D'Aversa drives in for a layup attempt against Friends Academy in the Class A championship game at Farmingdale State on Saturday. Photo credit: Luke Dixon

The tooth lay there on the hardwood floor, and for a second everyone in the arena just stared at it.

Moments before, it was in the top row of the mouth of North Shore High School senior Danny Lenney.

But as he grabbed a rebound in the second quarter of the Vikings’ Class A county championship game against Friends Academy Saturday, an elbow from Friends’ Josh McKenzie had dislodged the chopper.

This is what playing for a championship sometimes entails: you have to give some blood.

The chopper was recovered, and so did Lenney, after grasping his mouth following a pass up the floor.

Unfortunately for North Shore, Lenney’s lost tooth didn’t lead to a crown.

Despite leading for most of the game, the Vikings couldn’t quite grasp the first Nassau county title in school history, as the Quakers rallied in the fourth quarter and snagged a 55-49 win at Farmingdale State.

In beating North Shore (18-5) for the third time, Friends earned its second title in three seasons.

“That’s the kind of kids we have; he loses a tooth and comes right back in to play,” said North Shore head coach Harrison Berglin. “These kids gave me everything all season, and I love them to death. It sucks that we couldn’t win today.”

Friends had dominated the first two meetings of the season between the two teams, taking a 62-42 decision on Jan. 11, and then losing the rematch 68-50 at North Shore.

But Saturday’s tilt was tight from the start. North Shore, led by senior star Vasilis Triantafyllou (20 points, eight rebounds) held a 22-19 lead at the break and did a terrific job defensively on Friends Academy leading scorer Jackson O’Brien.

Despite foul shooting woes (North Shore made only 13 of 23 from the stripe Saturday), the Vikings were able to stay in front and led by 5, 32-27, midway through the third. They hit a cold snap there with a chance to extend the lead, and the Quakers started to climb back.

“We did such a great job on defense and then had some looks there (in the third) that normally go down,” Berglin said. “Everybody talks about how great (Friends Academy) is but we played them hard right to the end.”

Once Friends (19-4) took the lead back in the final minute of the third quarter on a jumper by Kyle Kramer, 34-33, the Quakers didn’t relinquish it again.

In the final period, with O’Brien on the bench the first four minutes due to foul trouble, North Shore hung around but couldn’t get close enough.

Two free throws by Matt D’Aversa cut the deficit to 44-41 with 1:55 left, but then the Quakers scored on back-to-back trips, with a Kramer three from the right corner providing the dagger, giving Friends a 49-43 lead with :55 left.

“We got good looks, they didn’t go in; they had some good looks that went in,” Berglin said. “We gambled a couple times on defense there and they made us pay.”

D’Aversa finished with 13 points, while senior Jack Molesky grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds for the Vikings.

For the North Shore seniors, the loss brought finality to one of the best teams in school history.

“It’s a great group; the last two years we’re like 33-11,” Berglin said. “This senior group are such good basketball players, and off the court they’re amazing kids. I’ll never forget them, and I thank them for getting us here.”

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