By Rob Potter
NEW PALTZ March 7, 2006 With the seconds ticking away in the third quarter of Saturday afternoons Section IX Class D boys basketball title game at SUNY New Paltz, The Family Schools Shervin Nassi caught a pass from teammate Andrew Van Riper near the top of the key.
Nassi, a senior guard, then squared up to the basket and launched a 3-point shot. The basketball fell through the net during the final second of the period, giving the Falcons a 40-38 lead over Chapel Field and momentum heading into the fourth quarter.
Although No. 1-seeded Chapel Field (13-9) regained the lead early in those final eight minutes of play, The Family School, which was the No. 3 seed in the Class D tourney, kept its poise.
As a result, the Falcons took the lead with just over two minutes remaining and went on to record a 58-52 victory.
As Section IX champions, The Family School (15-7) will advance to the state tournament. The Falcons will play Long Island-champion Greenport in the opening round at 4 p.m. tomorrow at the Westchester County Center in White Plains.
Family School senior center Will Gahan scored inside at the 2:06 mark to give his team a 48-47 advantage. After teammate Jason Peck put back a miss about 15 seconds later, the Falcons had a three-point lead.
With 1:39 remaining, Chapel Fields Daryl Gros scored to cut The Family Schools lead to 50-49.
But Gahan responded with a basket 35 seconds later to increase the Falcons lead to 52-49.
Peck practically sealed his teams victory by swishing a long shot from just inside the 3-point arc with 23 seconds remaining. The basket pushed the Falcons lead to 56-49.
This is just a great feeling, Family School Coach Ted Towsley said moments after the game as he and his players stood on the court celebrating their achievement.
Towsley said that he told his players at halftime that they could not allow the Lions to extend their lead which then stood at seven points (26-19) when the second half began.
I told them that they couldnt let the lead reach double figures, Towsley explained. I said if they did that and played better in the second half, we would end the game as champions. They went out and did just that.
Gahan scored a game-high 26 points and Van Riper, a junior forward, added 14 points for The Family School.
Peck netted eight points, all of which he scored in the pivotal fourth quarter.
Gros led Chapel Field with 23 points, while Jordan Christie added 11 points.
Chapel Field Coach Joe Canazon noted that The Family School had a decided advantage in one area that is a key aspect of any basketball game on any level of competition.
Rebounding, he said. They really beat us on the boards.
Its very tough to beat the same team three times [in one season], Canazon added. We won both regular season games against The Family School, but the scores didnt indicate how close the contests were.
Chapel Field topped The Family School by 12 points and nine points, respectively, in the two matchups earlier this season between the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division VI teams. In addition, the Lions won the Division VI title with a perfect 8-0 record.
This feeling is amazing, said Ben Laufer, who is one of The Family Schools senior tri-captains. This is the greatest moment in my high school basketball career. We all worked really hard for this. Its an accomplishment Ill remember for the rest of my life.
Gahan noted that the Falcons work in recent practices helped them emerge victorious.
We worked really hard to face their 2-3 zone [defense] and worked on breaking their press, he said.
When asked how it felt to be a member of a sectional championship team, Gahan just smiled.
Its an awesome feeling, he replied.