Clarkstown North and South engaged in a great basketball game tonight at South, especially the second half. The entire fourth quarter it was a one or two-possession game and wasn’t decided until the last shot of the night. Here’s my story on tonight’s game:
WEST NYACK — On Tuesday at North Rockland, Clarkstown South learned an unwritten lesson of late-game basketball. The Vikings put that knowledge to use just three days later against their crosstown rivals in the final seconds of a tense game in their crowded, steamy home gym.
South lost to North Rockland on a last-second shot it believed could’ve been called an offensive foul. So, up two points on the last possession against Clarkstown North Friday night, three defenders met a driving Zac Jarrett in the lane, colliding with the North guard as he tried to tie the score. The defensive stop just before the buzzer ended a heated 51-49 victory for the Vikings, who rallied from a 13-point second half deficit.
“We learned from our experience,” South’s Joey Zayer (pictured right) said. “We told ourselves that we didn’t want that to happen again so we made sure it didn’t.”
The final sequence dripped with drama, beginning with the Vikings (9-6) emerging from their first-half doldrums to drop in 23 points in the third quarter. From there, the game see-sawed and the teams exchanged clutch baskets. The last was scored by Tyler Mager, who caught a pass from Zayer off a designed inbound play and hit the winning basket with 1:02 remaining.
Coach Matt Backs said he picked up the play touring college practices last fall. Zayer and Mager have worked it to perfection recently.
“Me and Tyler, we have great chemistry with one another,” said Zayer, who had 15 points, six rebounds and four key assists. “I know where he’s going to be and he knows where I’m going to be. He saved us. He’s the reason we won today.”
Mager was actually fouled on the play. He missed the ensuing free throw, but tracked down the loose ball on a long offensive rebound to chew up valuable time.
Still, the Rams (8-7), who beat South at home in January, had time for two shots for the tie or the lead. First, Jarrett (12 points) rattled out a 3-pointer at the top of the key. After a missed free throw, his drive to the hoop in the final seconds came up short.
“I think we had opportunities at the end to capitalize,” North coach Dan Goldberg said. “I think Zac is one of the best shooters around.”
He had plenty of help from Sal Barbetto (11 points), Chris Boddy and Brendan Hendrickson (eight apiece). They sparked the Rams to a 31-18 lead early before the Vikings responded behind Zayer, Mager (11 points) and Kyle Beckmann (11 points), whose 12 rebounds began to negate North’s rebounding edge, which was 20-9 at halftime.
“We’ve been down lately,” Mager said. “It wasn’t easy being 6-0 and going 2-6 in the next eight, so this is the sweetest win.”