With 4:40 left in Monday’s Nassau Class AA boys basketball semifinal, you’d hardly know that – a scrappy group of sophomores and juniors – didn’t even make the playoffs a year ago.
The Dalers played with determination and spunk to push perennial power Uniondale, Long Island’s only unbeaten team, to the limit. Junior reserve Matt DiCarlo’s inside basket trimmed Uniondale’s lead to 46-44.
“With all the mistakes and mental errors we made throughout the game, we’re right there,” Farmingdale Coach Jim Pastier said. “We still fought and got back to that point.”
Farmingdale kept on pushing. But top-seeded Uniondale exerted its own pressure to score six straight points in the final minute and pull away from No. 4 Farmingdale, 59-51, before a crowd of 1,000 at SUNY-Old Westbury.
The Dalers (14-4) were led by junior guard Dalique Mingo (19 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists) and sophomore swingman Curtis Jenkins (18 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks).
Jenkins’ transition bucket off a blocked shot closed the gap to 53-49 with 1:32 to go. Everything seemed possible for the Dalers, looking to reach the Nassau title game for the first time since 2003. That team was led by Matt Danowski.
This group is even more athletic and oozes pure basketball talent. But Famingdale went cold against Uniondale down the stretch and failed to make another field goal.
Credit the Knights (20-0), winners of two of the last three county titles. Kenny Woodard, a 6-foot-6 senior, was an inside force while lightning-fast senior point guard Shaq Mosley gave the Dalers fits. Woodard finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds while Mosley had 15 points and 5 assists.
“Shaq is phenomenal,” Pastier said of Uniondale’s 1,000-point scorer. “We tried to double him best we could. We held him under 20.”
The teams played a hotly contested game during the regular season that reportedly for nearly an hour while the gym was cleared. Not so this time. The atmosphere was intense, but the crowd and teams respectful.
All that was left to do was say goodbye to the Farmingdale seniors: Pierre St. Simon, the lone senior starter, along with fellow teammates NaJohn Toney and DeAndrea Fogan.
One week after in the quarterfinal, the Dalers' impressive run was over.
“We started on this journey last April with spring leagues,” Pastier said. “Now it’s done. It’s the worst thing in the world saying goodbye to our seniors. The family we had for the last year is getting broken up.”
Nassau Class AA Boys Basketball
Semifinal @ SUNY-Old Westbury
Teams..................1.....2.....3.....4 – F
Farmingdale.........7...20...17...14 – 51
Uniondale...........14...14...15...16 – 59
F: Jenkins 7-4-18, St. Simon 1-1-3, Petit-Frere 1-0-3, Mingo 5-9-19, DiCarlo 1-0-2, Spadalik 2-0-6. Totals: 17-14-51. U: Cust 1-0-2, Williams 1-0-2, Brown 1-1-3, Woodard 8-3-19, Mosley 5-5-15, McGary 2-3-8, Benson 1-4-6, Jackson 1-0-2, Graham-Wright 1-0-2. Totals: 21-16-59. Three-pointers – F: 3 (Spadalik 2, Petit-Frere); U: 1 (McGary).