When the boys’ basketball team from Smithtown West entered the locker room, they let out a loud scream.
They’d done it. After not winning the League III title in nearly 50 years, the Bulls are now back-to-back champs. And they have their secret weapon to thank.
Greg Giordano hadn’t played in the team’s first matchup against Copiague, and it turned out that worked to his advantage. The senior scored 28 points in Smithtown West’s 78-59 win Feb. 2.
“He’s strong, athletic, he’s a jumper, he’s fast, attacks the rim,” Smithtown West head coach Mike Agostino said of his captain. “He does the right thing every single day in practice. His work habits are awesome, and as a result, you get the byproduct of a game like this.”
Giordano found the open lane time and time again, driving the lane and using spin moves, reverse layups and under-the-basket passes amid a flurry of aggressive defenders.
“We came out firing,” he said. “We’ve got a veteran group of guys that love playing with each other, and whenever things are going down we know we can pick each other back up. We wanted to come out and make a statement.”
That statement was made early when the Bulls jumped out to a 10-2 lead after two minutes of play, scoring layups on their first five possessions — two by Giordano, two by Chris Crespo and the other by Kyle LaGuardia, before Gordon Shouler swished a three-point shot.
“We worked hard and I think we deserved it,” Crespo said. “Copiague is a team that can score the ball. They have crafty, excellent guards that get to the basket, so we needed to contain them.”
Leading 36-26 at halftime, five Bulls helped the team run away with the game in the third quarter, outscoring the Eagles 16-9. Giordano and senior Michael Gannon, who came off the bench to score 16 points and grab 10 rebounds, scored five points apiece over the eight minutes.
“During warmups I was hitting most of my shots, so when I got open I let it fly,”
Copiague amped up the defense in the hopes of getting back in the game, scoring 12 straight points in the fourth quarter as the home crowd roared, but Giordano iced the game late, racking up 12 points off 14 free-throw attempts.
“They played like us,” Agostino said. “They played tough, they played smart, and they played together. They know that’s the formula we need to be successful.”
The win extended the Bulls winning streak to 13 games. The team is just two games away from going undefeated in conference play.
Crespo said in the moments following the win it felt like a dream.
“We’ve been playing together since sixth and seventh grade, so it’s definitely a special moment,” he said. “The sky’s the limit for us.”
Agostino said he’s proud to see all the dedication pay off.
“We have to play against good teams that are strong and game plan and strategize to beat you,” he said. “Winning the league is the hardest thing to do, but we play each game the same way. I’m with these guys all the time — and there’s ups and downs — and they had to work hard and persevere and overcome and for them to still be successful, I’m elated. I couldn’t be happier for them.”