The challenge of overcoming an 18-point deficit in the second quarter was made more difficult for Maspeth with star Paolo Tamer sitting on the bench with three fouls in the first quarter. When you have Tamer Tamer, Paolo’s younger brother, it proved to be no trouble at all.
Tamer Tamer, a junior, scored a team-high 14 points as Maspeth completed a furious rally to beat Dwight 51-50 in the New York State Federation Class B semifinals Saturday evening at UAlbany’s SEFCU Area.
Maspeth, who is playing in its first varsity season, will try to win its first Federation title 4 p.m. today against the Park School of Buffalo. Tamer Tamer ensured that opportunity.
“I felt like I had to pick up his slack,” he said. “Our goal in Albany was not a fun trip. We have no phones in our hotel, we’re here to do business and we are here to win the state championship.”
The key to the Argonauts rally was sparked by the team’s character and their tendency to never give up.
“Our heart [led the comeback],” Argonauts Coach Anastasia Bitis said. “We had a conversation in the locker room about playing confidently and playing with our hearts. I told them how much I believed they deserved to win after all this hard work they’ve been doing.”
Maspeth (28-2) responded by holding Dwight (23-7) to 3 of 24 shooting from the field in the second half and closed the game on a 9-2 run. The spurt included Tammer Tammer’s go-ahead layup with 1:43 left and a big three by Matthew Nickle to give the Argonauts their first lead of the contest at 51-47 with a minute to play. Michal Bugaj chipped in 14 points for Maspeth.
Even Tammer Tamer wasn’t sure if his squad was going to be able to pull of such a rally coming out of halftime.
“I believed and I didn’t believe,” he said. “I felt we were down as a team at the end of the first [half]. We talked about it and we worked so hard for this we can’t end it now.”
Before Maspeth’s magical run, Dwight used an 18-0 spurt that included 10 points from Rodrigue Marthone to give it a 30-12 lead in the second quarter. The Lions played in Federation tournament last season while early nerves caused the Argonauts to struggle out of the gate.
“Honestly the first half was not us,” Bitis said. “Of course the nervousness of being up here for the first time, a bigger stage, a different team that they haven’t seen before, so I think it was a few factors that affected us in the first half.”
Marthone, who had a game high 16 points, almost ruined Maspeth day as time expired. He threw up a floater that hit the back of the rim and bounced out. After a short exhale, the Argonaut players let out a breath and enjoyed their improbable win.