2010-02-05 / Sports

Determined Far Rock Clinches Playoff Berth

By Elio Velez

Far Rockaway guard Antoine White gets around fallen John Adams guard Joshua Nazario in the second half. Photos by William Thomas. Far Rockaway guard Antoine White gets around fallen John Adams guard Joshua Nazario in the second half. Photos by William Thomas. There was a palpable tension brewing inside the Far Rockaway gymnasium on Wednesday.

John Adams guard Joshua Nazario hit a 15-foot jumper to tie the game at 44 in the fourth quarter of a PSAL A game that had major importance for the home Seahorses.

Far Rockaway didn’t bow to the pressure with less than five minutes remaining in a tight contest against John Adams. A common theme this season for the Seahorses is that not just one player delivers in a clutch situation, it’s a team effort.

The Seahorses got a lot of contributions down the stretch to pull away from the Spartans to win 59-50 on Wednesday afternoon.

Antoine White led the Seahorses with 20 points and Warren Saylor Jr. added 13 points as Far Rockaway improved to 10-8 with the win. They clinched a playoff berth in the PSAL A boys’ tournament with only one game remaining today at home against William C. Bryant.

Seahorses coach Mark Bacchus (center) draws out a play for his team. Seahorses coach Mark Bacchus (center) draws out a play for his team. When Idryis Faison, the Seahorses leading scorer at 14 points per game fouled out with 5:49 to play in the fourth quarter, the senior forward wasn’t worried.

“Our bench is just like our regular starting lineup. We got a good team here,” Faison said. Even if I fouled out, we knew someone will come from the bench and do good.”

Freshman Joshua Croskey came off the bench and hit a three-pointer with less than 4 minutes remaining to give the team the lead for good at 47-44. Warren Saylor Jr., a sophomore added two 3-pointers in the quarter.

“We just all put it together,” White said. We knew he fouled out. Everybody did something and did their job.”

The Seahorses had two starters from last year’s playoff team in White and Faison. White improved his game tremendously, averaging 6 points a game last season to 17 points. Faison improved his scoring (14 ppg) and rebounding as well.

Coach Mark Bacchus has relied on his two seniors to provide scoring and leadership. But as the season progressed, Bacchus saw an improvement from a young roster made up of freshmen and sophomores.

It wasn’t just going to be his two seniors that would carry the load. His younger plays would eventually make an impact.

The young guys had to step in to the starting lineup when junior Dominique Jennings missed four games due to a dislocated pinky. Saylor Jr. and sophomore Christopher Green stepped in when starting point guard Ramel Gittens missed nine games due to disciplinary and family issues. Gittens returned to the lineup and scored 8 points in the win over the Spartans.

“We got two seniors who can play but they are the most unselfish guys. But they have faith in the young guys. We got a lot of freshmen and sophomores. It’s good for us in the future and right now,” Bacchus said.

They’ve also displayed resiliency this season, especially late down the stretch. A 48-47 loss to Newtown on January 22 dropped the Seahorses record to 7-8. They bounced back with in the last week with two big victories on the road over Grover Cleveland and on Monday to Hillcrest.

There’s a growing sense of belief that the Seahorses have not put it all together just yet. They have had their normal starting lineup and rotation for only a few games. Their losses to 16-2 Francis Lewis was by five points with two starters missing. They held leads in the second half against division leading Springfield Gardens before losing close games.

“We’ve played all of the top teams tough. In those losses, we beat ourselves, no one else. They look at it as if we play our A game, no one would beat us,” Bacchus said.

With the playoffs beginning later this month, Bacchus thinks his team can pull off a few victories.

“I look it as we’re good. We’re a young team and these are memories they will not forget throughout their whole lives and not just in basketball.”

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