By Joseph Staszewski
For two years Maspeth envisioned winning a city championship in its first varsity season, but it was still hard for them to believe it was happening.
Argonauts coach Anastasia Bitis had a look of disbelief on her face as the final minute ticked away and said to her assistant coaches, “Oh my, God,” just after the final buzzer sounded. Second-seeded Maspeth made the dream a reality with a 57-42 victory over No. 20 Frederick Douglass Academy III Lions in the PSAL Class B boys’ basketball final at Baruch College last Sunday.
“Since last year this was our goal,” senior guard Paolo Tamer said, “We wanted to come here. We wanted to take the chip. This is all we have been thinking about for two years.”
It did so with an entire school behind it. Maspeth, which has been open for just three years, bused in 180 students. The size of its crowd, which took up half of the gym, forced PSAL officials to open up more seating on the other side to accommodate the number of people who had been waiting in the hallway prior to the start.
“They showed up all for Maspeth,” Tamer said.
What they saw was an unselfish Argonauts team, which was a developmental club a year ago. take Frederick Douglass (23-2) out of the game from the start. They went up nine in the first quarter and built a 35-17 lead at the half. Maspeth had four players scoring in double figures thanks to the ball zipping around the defense, numerous extra passes for easy baskets and countless fearless drives to the hoop. Tamer led the way with 13 points. Michael Bugaj had 12, Damian Piszczatowski 11 and Matthew Nickel chipped in 10. Tamer Tamer added eight points.
“We are very selfless” PaoloTamer said. ”It’s been like that from the start. We have a lot of weapons. We distribute the ball a lot. Everyone gets their touches.”
Maspeth (27-1) has had a habit of letting opponents back into games in the postseason and made it a point not to let Frederick Douglass do that. The Lions pulled within 43-32 late in the third quarter and Maspeth responded with an 6-0 run. It put together five quick points after its lead was trimmed to 10 midway through the fourth to ensure the school’s first senior class went out as champions.
“It was the biggest thing we could have done at the school,” Pisczatowski said.
Bitis knew she had a special club a year ago and petitioned the PSAL to make it eligible for league play a year early. It still had to wait its turn, but used the season to grow familiar with each other and learned the system in Bitis’ first year. Paolo Tamer, the team’s driving force, had transferred from New York Harbor School to join his brother.
She told them what they could be capable of when given the chance. Maspeth has lost just once in two years and now has a title to show for it. The Argonauts play Dwight in the state Federation semifinals at UAlbany March 28.
“I have been calling this since last year,” Bitis said. “They believed it and they drank the juice man.”