Lawrence saw its dream of its first county championship since 1968 come to an end on Saturday as No. 1 Manhasset knocked off the No. 6 Golden Tornadoes 73-59 in the Nassau County Class A championship game at the Mack Sports Complex on the campus of Hofstra University.
Lawrence guard Ibraheem Shamseldin scored a career-high 31 points to lead all scorers. Manhasset senior forward Gary Tibbs scored 24 points, 15 of which came in the opening half, to lead the Indians to their first county title since 1997, and third championship in program history. Alessandro Troia had 23 points and 12 rebounds for Manhasset.
“They’re a very tough team to match up with, because they rebound and run,” Shamseldin said. “Tibbs and Troia were very strong on the boards. They got a lot of second chance shots and took advantage of their opportunities. That was probably the difference in the game."
Lawrence got out of the gates slowly. The Golden Tornadoes turned the ball over four times before getting on the scoreboard. Adding to the rough start was Ahmad Shamseldin being forced to the bench after picking up his second foul just five minutes into the contest.
The Indians held an 18-11 lead after one quarter. Six of Manhasset’s points came off offensive rebounds.
“I thought the difference was our inability to execute,” Lawrence head coach Pete Linderman said. “When you’re playing a strong team like this you can’t afford to make so many mistakes. There were trips down the floor where we had lapses and didn’t run any offensive sets."
He added, "Give Manhasset credit, they’re a terrific team.”
The Golden Tornadoes began to force some turnovers off the press in the second quarter, but the Indians continued to have its way on the boards. A traditional 3-point play by Ibraheem Shamseldin off a feed from Samson Bialostok cut the lead to 33-31 with 1:28 remaining in the half. But Manhasset answered with a long 3-pointer from Troia to give the Indians a 36-31 advantage at the half.
Manhasset’s leading scorer knew that winning the battle in the paint would be a big factor. “The coaches told me at the half that Gary and I needed to really hit the boards hard in the second half,” Troia said. “We thought we’d have an advantage inside against them. We tried to get the ball inside a lot to Gary. It made our offense more versatile.”
The third quarter was all Manhasset. Senior point guard Anthony Amitrano (10 points, five assists) scored six straight points to start a 12-0 run for the Indians. Troia was a force driving to the hole. The junior guard scored three straight buckets as the Indians extended their lead to 57-42 after three quarters.
The fourth quarter was a mere formality. Troia continued to have the hot hand scoring six points, and the Indians increased their lead to 71-51 with just over two minutes to play.
Manhasset advances to the Long Island championship game where it will meet Suffolk champion Harborfields. The Golden Tornadoes finished with a record of 17-4.
Lawrence athletic director Pat Pizzarelli was proud of the team’s accomplishments. “We’ve had tremendous success on the football field over the years, and have the reputation of being a strong football school,” Pizzarelli said. “These boys did a terrific job all season long. The school is very proud of them.”
Ibraheem Shamseldin knows that the team accomplished a lot this year. "Nobody expected us to get here," he said. "We worked real hard. Somebody has to win and someday has to lose.”