TODT HILL, SI-A day after eliminating Berkeley Carroll, Staten Island Academy kept its season going. They advanced to the New York State (NYSAISAA) Championship game by posting a 60-45 semifinal win over seventh seeded Trinity at O.J. Buck Gymnasium in Staten Island. The No.6 seeded Tigers will meet the tournament’s No.1 seed Masters in the final to be played Sunday at Fieldston (11 AM). Masters defeated Lawrence Woodmere by 11.
Staten Island Academy was led by the inside/out combination of James Morisano and Mike Langford. For the second consecutive day, Morisano paced all scorers with 20. The junior was a terror inside the paint, also grabbing 12 rebounds to post a double/double. They combined for 37 of the school’s 60 points. Andrew Bavaro also hit double digits with 15. Lionel Greene added eight.
For SIA coach Mike Mazzella, it was the same cast that did to Berkeley Carroll. As they had a day before, the Tigers jumped all over Trinity. They used an 11-4 start to put the No.7 seed behind early. Morisano scored twice inside. Greene finished a drive and Langford hit a trey. The senior guard had a strong game- setting up open teammates. Along with his 17, he had eight assists and five steals. Following three straight markers from Trinity’s Shiv Gidumal, Greene drained a triple as time expired. A tough double clutch that steered the Tigers in front by seven (14-7).
They continued to be the aggressor throughout. A 6-2 run featured Langford’s second three to put Staten Island Academy up 18-10 at the six minute mark of the second stanza. The Tigers clamped down defensively, holding Trinity to seven. They out hustled and out-muscled their Manhattan opponent, who didn’t get in sync until the second half. They led by 10 following a nice baseline reverse by Langford. Following a Trinity bucket, the Tigers closed the half on a 5-0 run. Langford drained a tough jumper and set up Bavaro for a three-point play with seven seconds left that put SIA in front 27-14.
The Tigers threatened to blowout Trinity. A pair of Langford free throws and a lay-in off a steal had them up 18 (32-14). But the Trinity Tigers started to get back in it thanks to Alex Rubin (18). He scored 11 of his team high 18 in the third. Rubin did most of his damage inside with Greene on the bench. Without their top defender, SIA let Trinity back in the game. Rubin scored their first seven out of the locker room to cut the deficit to 13 (34-21). They outscored SIA 9-2- ending the quarter within six (36-30).
Rubin did the bulk of the work, hitting a couple of contested shots including a turnaround with the shot clock running down. Adrien Auburn banked in a three from the key that pulled them within 10. They upped the ante defensively, forcing the Tigers into some mistakes. Two more scores including an extra pass for a lay-up made it a contest.
At the start of the fourth, Mazzella reinserted Greene. He wasted no time nailing a deep three that sparked a 9-2 spurt. Staten Island Academy did it exclusively from downtown. Langford was the distributor, finding Greene and Bavaro twice to turn a six-point game into 13. They led 45-32 with six minutes to go. Out of a timeout, Morisano scored only his second field goal of the second half- widening the gap to 15. He scored seven straight for the Tigers, who used a Morisano three-point play to go ahead 52-38 with 2:44 remaining.
Trinity hung around thanks to the trio of Rubin, Gidumal (9) and Auburn (10). They were forced to foul. Langford sank a pair from the charity stripe and his pass at mid-court found Morisano for the exclamation point.
Boxscore via Staten Island Advance reporter Kevin Flood.