PEEKSKILL, N.Y.— Somers boys basketball standout Lorenzo Bicknese started off hot and didn’t stop in the Tuskers’ Section 1 Class A first-round contest at seventh-seeded Peekskill on Feb. 18.
Bicknese scored all 13 of the Tuskers’ points in the opening quarter, one they led 13-6, on his way to a game-high 26 points, in No. 10 Somers’ 54-50 win against the Red Devils.
“Lorenzo is our primary scorer,” Somers coach Chris DiCintio said. “He leads our team in scoring and also, I think, is our leading rebounder. He’s a tremendous player and he’s only getting better all the time. He’s had several 20-point games for us this year. What I love about Lorenzo is that he’s been a little inconsistent with his scoring because he’s still growing and learning as a junior but he brought it tonight. He brought it in a big game and that’s going to really help propel him for the future for his senior year.”
Bicknese gave all the credit to his teammates and was just happy to help his team.
“As a team it means everything to perform the way we did though,” Bicknese said. “I feel like that is the true key to success. Chemistry is huge for us because when we have chemistry that is when we are at our best.”
Somers maintained a lead throughout most of the game before Peekskill came storming back to take a 42-37 advantage early in the fourth quarter.
The Tuskers, however, showed plenty of toughness and answered back by outscoring Peekskill 17-8 the rest of the way to earn a hard-fought win.
“We kept our composure by just playing our type of basketball,” said Bicknese, who also grabbed six rebounds. “We knew they wanted to push and run on us and if we played up to that speed it would have been over. We had to slow the game up and make them adjust to how we play, rather than us adjusting to them.”
A Marc Maestri 3-pointer cut the deficit to 42-40 midway through the fourth quarter. Nick Gargiulo knocked down two free throws and Matt Pires drove and scored to put the Tuskers up 48-46 with 2:27 to play.
Gargiulo scored on a short floater to give the Tuskers a 50-47 lead with just under a minute left.
DiCintio thought the experience his team garnered last season went a long way in helping it come from behind.
“I know a lot of them are juniors. We only have a few seniors that we play but I still believe these kids, eight of the juniors, played on the varsity last year as sophomores, so they have varsity experience,” DiCintio said. “They have a lot of basketball experience so I just think they have been battle tested before and that’s why coming down the stretch, they were prepared.”
Gio Tradito (9 points), Pires (8 points), Maestri (7 points) and Gargiulo (4 points) also contributed to the win.
Somers will travel to No. 2 Tappan Zee in a quarterfinal contest at 7 p.m. on Feb. 23.
Somers also won another thrilling game when it hosted its outbracket contest against No. 23 Nanuet on Feb. 16 and persevered to outlast its Rockland County opponents 52-46 in overtime.
“It feels great to win our first playoff game like that,” Pires said. “We were able to execute down the stretch and a win like this is going to help us moving forward during this run.”
While known for his football prowess in helping lead Somers to a Class A state title on the gridiron, Pires also showed that he could perform in the clutch on the basketball court as well against the Golden Knights.
The Class A co-state football player of the year came up with a huge three-point play, putting Somers up 50-46 with just 18.7 seconds left in the game.
“The play wasn’t drawn up or anything. We actually wanted to try and waste the clock but I just saw the opening and took it,” Pires said. “It felt great making that shot knowing that helped us a lot and was able to ice the game.”
A well-balanced offensive attack, led by Pires (17 points), Tradito (15 points) and Bicknese (12 points) led Somers (12-10) to the win.
“The key was just sharing the ball and being unselfish,” Pires said. “We were able to find the open man at the right time. There’s new people that step up every game and that’s what I love about this team.”