SOMERS – With a low-scoring first half in the books, Somers was need of an offensive spark in its Class A quarterfinal against No. 10 Pelham on Tuesday.
The second-seeded Tuskers needed someone to get the shots falling, and Anthony Maestri was just the man for the job.
“Everyone always tells me that I’m the most confident kid on the team, so I shoot whenever I have a wide open shot,” Maestri said. “I have a shooter’s mentality.”
Maestri hit back-to-back 3s early in the third quarter to give Somers a lead that it wouldn’t relinquish on the way to a 43-36 win, sending the Tuskers to the County Center for the first time since 1992.
They’ll play No. 3 Byram Hills in the semifinals next Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
“In the first half, we weren’t hitting any shots. I came out (in the second half) and hit both of those 3s, and we really rode that momentum,” Maestri said. “We started hitting some shots and broke away right there.”
The Pelicans led 12-7 after the first quarter, but neither team was able to muster much offense in the first half, which led to a 15-15 tie at the half.
“We’re a defensive team. We know that defense wins championships, so we came out here, played our best defense and got it done,” Somers’ Ryan Grossman said. “We have a bunch of athletes and we’re long, so we like to use that to our advantage — get steals, get out in front, and that’s what we did.”
The Tuskers were effective with their full court press and went on a 15-4 run for a stretch in the third quarter. Grossman led the way with 11 points, but the Tuskers relied on spreading the ball out, with six players scoring at least four points.
“We realized this is our court, we’re the No. 2 seed, and we just relaxed,” Grossman said. “The third quarter is usually where we fall off, so we had to make a statement that, ‘We’re going to have a good third quarter and take this game.’
Brendan Roche led Pelham with 12 points and nine rebounds, including a 3 that cut Somers’ lead to 36-32 with 1:45 to play. But the four-point deficit was as close as the Pelicans would get, as the Tuskers continued their run despite having five new starters this season.
“It really shows that, as a squad, we have great chemistry,” Maestri said. “We’ve been playing together our whole lives, and now it’s finally our turn. We’re going to ride it all of the way to the section championship.”