SOMERS, N.Y.— The Somers boys basketball team has been in many close contests, both on the winning and losing end in the 2016-2017 season. On its senior night, the team found itself in a battle with Pleasantville on Feb. 10.
The Tuskers gave it everything they had, but Pleasantville’s senior tandem of Mike Manley and Quentin Lupo proved to be just too much to overcome in a 58-55 defeat.
The final setback came with 5.5 seconds left after senior guard Matt Pires made a 3-pointer to cut the Pleasantville lead to 56-55. The Somers team was called for a technical foul for calling a timeout when they didn’t have one. According to Somers head coach Chris DiCintio, he didn’t call for one.
“They said they heard it from the bench, but that wasn’t the case,” DiCintio said. “I never signaled timeout or asked for a timeout.”
Another bad break occurred with 11.4 left in the game with Pleasantville clinging to a 54-52 lead. Manley, who led all scorers with 24 points, missed the front end of a one-and-one. Somers senior guard Pearse Martin grabbed the rebound, but was tied up by Pleasantville’s Nick Salzarulo. The possession arrow pointed in the direction of Pleasantville, but the Somers bench believed it was actually its possession.
“The officials need to understand that’s a major part of the game,” DiCintio said. “The arrow wasn’t changed at the table. It would have been our possession.”
Despite the calls, Somers got a chance to tie the game as it forced a turnover thanks to its pressure defense. Pires, who had scored 11 of his team-high 16 points in the quarter, got the tying shot off, but it was just off the mark.
What has been Somers’ Achilles’ heel all season is falling behind early in games. The Tuskers trailed 10-1 and found themselves down 38-23 in the middle of the third quarter.
“Unfortunately, this has happened in many of our games,” DiCintio said. “We’ve bounced back and won our fair share, but the reason we’re 10-10 is we fall just short.”
The Tuskers made their move with 15 consecutive points into the early stages of the fourth quarter. Martin scored all five of his points in that stretch and the defense was able to hold the Pleasantville duo in check.
“They have some good shooters hitting deep shots, so we switched to a 3-2 zone,” Pires said. “It got them from not shooting out there as much.”
Pleasantville finally got back on track thanks to the hot shooting of Lupo. The senior center, who finished with 23 points, scored 11 of his team’s next 14 points, including three 3-pointers as the Panthers regained the lead, 52-45. Somers made a second comeback attempt thanks to implementing pressure defense, but could only get as close as one as Pleasantville held on.
Along with Pires, guards Lorenzo Bicknese and Lucas Fecci assisted in a balanced scoring attack for the Tuskers with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Although the outcome was disappointing for Somers, it can be a game that can be a springboard for the postseason.
“To come back twice the way we did shows we have heart,” Pires said. “With us going into the playoffs, there’s going to be close games along the way. We want to try and make it as far as we can.”
DiCintio was disappointed the team couldn’t win for the seniors on the squad in Pires, Martin, Marc Maestri, Ross Dietrich and Ryan Maloney.
“They are a great group of kids. They work very hard and hopefully their work ethic will trickle down to the younger player,” DiCintio said. “I feel bad because they really wanted this one.”
The Class A sectionals open with the outbracket round on Feb. 16 and the first round is slated for two days later.