MAHOPAC, N.Y.— With key big men Nick Gargiulo and Jack Gilroy out with injuries, Somers’ boys basketball team is at an obvious size disadvantage in the paint.
The Tuskers more than made up for it last week when they picked up road wins over rival Mahopac and league foe Brewster.
“We used to flare out a little bit but now all five guards and everyone are all crashing the boards,” senior captain Marc Maestri said. “We’ve got to box out harder and make sure we’re attacking the boards to get the rebounds.”
Somers secured a 65-60 win over host Mahopac on Saturday, Feb. 4.
“We try going inside with me and Maestri as much as we can,” junior Lorenzo Bicknese said of how they’ve been compensating for the loss of Gargiulo and Gilroy. “Obviously it’s easier with Nick and Jack, but we just all have to box out. All the guards are doing well boxing out. That’s really the biggest thing. It allows me and Marc to get rebounds because we’re not the biggest. So when they box out it makes it easier and we just fly in and grab the boards.”
Despite Mahopac’s 3-15 record, the Indians still gave the Tuskers a run for their money. Somers knew coming in to not take Mahopac lightly, as its record can be thrown out the window in a rivalry matchup at home.
“Nothing comes easy, especially for a rivalry game,” said Bicknese, who finished with a game-high 22 points. “No matter what, it’s going to be a tough game. I think most of their losses are close games too. It’s not like they’re a bad team. They’re very physical and skilled.”
Somers led just 52-48 heading into the fourth quarter, but a Bicknese three-point play and Pearse Martin 3-pointer had them up 58-53.
“He’s really one of the best shooters on the team and I’m really happy for him,” Bicknese said of Martin. “The last couple of games he’s been playing and he’s been playing really well. He’s got really long arms and gets in the passing lanes and gets a lot of steals. He’s really the energizer. He’s one of our really good friends on the team and we’re just all pumped up for him.”
The Indians answered with a basket, but Bicknese laid one in off a steal. Gio Tradito drove and scored and Maestri converted another three-point play to give Somers a 65-58 lead with just a few minutes left.
Martin, a senior who generally sees limited playing time, came off the bench and knocked down some big shots on his way to 11 points. He beat the buzzer with a three to give Somers a 31-30 halftime lead.
“He’s been waiting for his moment,” Maestri said. “He’s been going hard in practice and coach (Chris DiCintio) gave him a shot and he performed. He’s a good three-point shooter and he was hitting his shots.”
Maestri knocked down back-to-back threes in the third quarter followed by a Chris DiCintio putback to put Somers up 50-40 before Mahopac mounted its comeback.
“We knew we had to come out strong in the second half,” Maestri said. “We made a little comeback in the second quarter and were playing well but we knew we could put them away in the third. We came out and we were making shots and pushing the ball to get the momentum on our side.”
Maestri added 14 points in the win, while Tradito (10 points) and DiCintio (six points) also contributed.
The Indians knocked down eight 3-pointers in the game, but the Tuskers were still able to overcome their hot shooting.
“They have a lot of shooters,” Bicknese said. “Closing out on their shooters and getting rebounds was really the key.”
Somers knocked off host Brewster 56-52 a night earlier to finish 5-3 in its league. The Tuskers were able to hold off a Brewster rally in the fourth quarter after having a 19 point lead.
Bicknese had another big game with 24 points. Tradito netted 13 points, while both Maestri and Justin Lancaster tallied seven points.
Somers (10-8) closes out the regular season when it hosts Pleasantville on its senior night at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 10.
“We’re going to come out with excitement and try to put them away,” Maestri said.