February 24, 2003
CLASS A FINAL 4
Whitman Silences Bellport
By Erik Boland
NEWSDAY STAFF WRITER
February 25, 2003
As Antoine Agudio measured the second of his two free
throws in relative silence, a lone voice
bellowed out from the Bellport fans' section.
"Give me a brick, No. 13!" the fan howled, referring to Agudio's uniform number.
Agudio swished it, then glanced toward the large Bellport
contingent as he trotted downcourt.
The Whitman senior had just given the Wildcats a 13-point lead late in the third quarter and was in
the midst of a blistering second half that often left Bellport's crowd silent but had Whitman's roaring.
Agudio scored 22 of his game-high 35 points in the
final 16 minutes as top seed Whitman pulled away
from No. 5 Bellport, 81-60, in a SuffolkClass A semifinal boys basketball game in front of a sellout
crowd of 1,700 last night at Whitman. Defending Long Island champion Whitman (19-2) will play
No. 6 Longwood at 8 p.m. Thursday at Stony Brook University.
Making Agudio's performance more impressive was that
he missed his first five shots and
scored only two points in the first quarter.
"I was a little anxious at the beginning," said the 6-3 Agudio, who added 12 rebounds and two steals. "I wasn't frustrated. I knew Matt Ross and Nick Carter would help pick me up."
It was Ross, a 6-7 senior, who carried Whitman as Agudio
struggled early. Ross scored seven first-quarter
points as Whitman grabbed a 15-12 lead. He added six in the second quarter, ending the half with
13 points and nine rebounds, six offensive. When Agudio, or any Wildcat, missed in the first half, Ross was there for the rebound. Whitman led 39-30 at halftime.
"They're an athletic team who crashes the boards,"
said Ross, who was matched primarily with 6-5 Jermaine Russell and 6-1
Alvin Dennis (14 points, nine rebounds). "I just wanted to get in the right
if we missed and go back up strong."
Ross finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds. Carter,
after starting slowly, had 20 points and 10 rebounds,
the third Wildcat to reach double figures in rebounding. Whitman outrebounded Bellport 46-33.
"We didn't rebound the ball well," Bellport coach Jim
McGowan said. "The officials let a lot of pushing go on inside and we're
kind of light down there."
There were a lot of opportunities for pushing. Against primarily a 3-2 zone, Bellport (17-4) was 24-for-64 from the field, 4-for-17 on three-pointers. It was 8-for-16 from the free-throw line. Whitman was 28-for-58 from the field, but 13-for-21 in the second half as Agudio and Carter put on a show.
Dennis cut Bellport's deficit to 41-36 with an inside basket early in the third quarter, but Agudio hit a jumper and a floater in the lane to make it 45-36. Davin Garrison scored for Bellport, but Carter scored six of the game's next eight points, the final two after teaming with Agudio on a two-on-one fast break. That basket gave Whitman a 51-40 lead with 3:58 left in the third.
Bellport's defense limited Whirman to 5 field goals. Unfortunately Carter and Agudio spent much of the fourth quarter practicing their free-throw shooting - Carter made 3 of 4, Agudio made 8 of 9 of his.
"Antoine's such a great offensive player you knew he'd
get it going eventually," Whitman coach Tom Fitzpatrick said. "We did a
great job of limiting them to one shot. We're pretty focused right now."
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