Sharks Second Half Big Bite Dooms Far Rockaway
Far Rockaway's Daniel Marc Sears was just starting to piece together his best performance of the opening round of the PSAL Class A playoffs on Tuesday night at Sheepshead Bay High School.
The first half effort for Sears and also the Seahorses was a bit lackluster. But the third quarter saw the optimism rise for Far Rockaway when the senior center scored seven straight points to cut the home Sharks lead to four points.
But while Sears was performing well mentally, the 6-5 player's body, especially his legs, began to betray him.
Painful cramps forced the Seahorses' leading scorer to the bench where he watched painfully as Sheepshead Bay turned the momentum in their favor. The Sharks pulled away in the second half as Robert Elmore led with 19 points to win 57-41. "I guess before the game I didn't drink enough fluids. After the dunk, I was running up the court and both of my calf muscles went cramping," Sears said.
Sears, who led the Seahorses with 14 points, struggled in the first half, missing on an open layup, a dunk and five free throws. But with 11 points in the third quarter, Sears was starting to find his rhythm offensively. It also helped that Seahorses had switched to playing a 1-3-1 defense that had stymied to that point Sheepshead Bay's balanced offensive attack.
When Sears connected on a dunk to cut the Sharks lead to 36-32, the senior had already begun to feel the pressure building in his legs. Relying on his athleticism was no longer a factor as Sears was escorted to the bench.
With their leading scorer taking a seat, the Sharks capitalized on his absence with a 14-2 run, which spanned the third and fourth quarters, to take control of the game.
Far Rockaway coach Mark Bacchus believed when Sears took a permanent seat on the bench, the spirits for Sheepshead Bay began to lift.
"That was the momentum shifter. We had the momentum, coming back, down by 4, they had no idea what to do with the 1-3-1 defense, we were in rhythm and made our shots," Bacchus said. "When you lose your biggest man, your best player and he started heating up in the second half and then he goes out, that's what turned the momentum."
Bacchus is proud that Far Rockaway made the playoffs for the first time since the 2003-04 season. But he wonders what could have been for his team, which might have been meeting Curtis in the second round, if things had gone differently.
"When your captain goes out, we weren't prepared. They tried to step it up. We were inexperienced and they were making their shots. They were hot and they got a boost of confidence when he left," said Bacchus.