Down by 10 in second half, Commack Cougars roar back to beat...

Down by 10 in second half, Commack Cougars roar back to beat Bulls, 48-43

The Commack Cougars boys basketball team continued their march to the Suffolk County AA championship by beating the top-seeded Smithtown West Bulls in the semi-final round on Tuesday night at neutral site Longwood High School. The final score was 48-43.

Commack senior center Ethan Meisel led the Cougars with 12 points and 10 rebounds, and he tied the score with a layup with two minutes left in the game after Smithtown West had been up by as many as 10.

But Commack, the fourth seed, outscored West 22-7 over the final 13 minutes of the game, and key free throws down the stretch by senior guard Mike Gitz after a gigantic offensive rebound by senior power forward Chris McHugh, with 10 seconds remaining in the game, sealed the win for Commack. Junior guard Nick Waga, who appeared to be seriously injured with 2 minutes and 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter, reentered the game to help close out the contest. Waga scored 10 points and handled the crunch-time pressure that West applied in their desperate attempts to create late-game turnovers.

The Bulls were again without superstar center Patrick Burke who dislocated his knee against Northport earlier this month and this gave Meisel, McHugh and forward Matt Rosenoff to freely operate in and around both their offensive and defensive baskets.

West senior guard Jack Melore scored 15 for the Bulls but missed on all four of his three-point shots in the second half. Brothers Lorenzo and Ben Rappa combined for 20 points in the losing effort.

Commack will attempt to win the county crown in the program’s history when they take on seventh-seeded Brentwood, who knocked off third-seeded Bellport, 63-59, earlier in the day. The AA Championship game will be held at Stony Brook University’s Island Federal Credit Union Arena on Saturday, Feb. 25, at 7:30 p.m. The winner will take on the Small School Champion, who is yet to be determined.