Maspeth’s magical season ends with state final defeat

By Joseph Staszewski

Maspeth played with the same heart, unselfishness and belief in itself that it displayed throughout its historic playoff run.

It just ran into The Park School squad that executed better and used its length to make running its system tougher on the Argonauts.

“They are probably the biggest team we have seen,” Maspeth guard Paolo Tamer said. “They are longer than what we have seen and we couldn’t get as many rebounds as we usually do.”

The Argonauts hung with the bigger, quicker Park School for the half before a poor start to the third quarter put an eventual 70-51 loss in state Federation Class B boys’ basketball final out of reach Sunday at UAlbany’s SEFCU Arena. Maspeth won a PSAL city title in its first varsity season and rallied from an 18-point second deficit in the second quarter to beat Dwight in the Federation semifinals. The Argonauts believed it had one more rally in it.

“When we started falling behind in the first half, we started telling ourselves we can do it again,” senior forward Michal Bugaj said. “We did it yesterday. We did it before in games that we played. There was no doubt that we could have done it again. We just didn’t pull through.”

The Argonauts (28-2) trailed 35-24 at the half after a bucket by Tamer Tamer, Paolo’s younger brother in the closing seconds. They were down just nine when Brandon Laboy began the third quarter with a hoop. It was all The Park School after that. The Pioneers responded with 15-3 run to push their advantage to 50-29 in the fourth.

Maspeth Coach Anastasia Bitis said her team was tired from the wild comeback from the night before and felt some pressure for the first time. It wanted to complement its city crown with a state title.

Even when it was getting out of reach, the Maspeth crowd kept cheering every point like it gave their team a lead. The players kept hustling and Argonauts never stopped thinking it could rally until the closing minutes.

“They fight and they fought again,” Bitis said.

Paolo Tamer led Maspeth with 17 points and Bugaj added nine. The Argonauts had no answer for 6-foot-7 Park School forward Jordan Nwora. The junior scored 29 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Randy Golda added 14 points and 11 boards.

The end may have been disappointment, but the journey there was a special one.

Maspeth put its program on the map and gained many fans, thanks to the players spirit and unselfish play.

“It’s been a great experience for everyone,” Paolo Tamer said. “No one expected us to be here. No one.”