Late in the 4th quarter with the game on the line, Braves head coach Bobby Kopp had to turn to his star player and to try to secure Syosset’s second win of the season. His star player was ready for the challenge. Senior guard Nick Albernas hit his fourth three pointer of the game with under two minutes left in the fourth quarter, to put Syosset up for good and Syosset would hold on to defeat Port Washington by a final score of 50-47.
Albernas and Syosset came into today’s contest looking to protect home court and win their second straight non league game after defeating Plainview JFK 56-46 last Wednesday.
Albernas got off to a fast start for Syosset by hitting a three pointer in the games opening minutes and scoring a quick layup after Senior guard Jake Canner stole the ball away from Port Washington’s Josh Gordon.
Before the game Kopp elected to change the teams warmup drill to allow them to get in more shots before each game. Albernas would say after the game that this really helped him get going quickly for Syosset.
“We changed up our warmup before the game which I really was a big fan of,” Albernas said. “I was able to take more shots in the warmup and I had a really good feeling going into the game.”
Syosset would lead 10-8 after the first quarter. In the second quarter Albernas continued to shine once again for the Braves. Albernas knocked down another three and Senior Jake Laine connected in the post to give the Braves a 17-12 advantage before Albernas hit yet another three and heard the loud cheers from the Syosset faithful. The Braves defense was tremendous in the first half and was something that the team relied heavily on to help give the Braves the lead. Syosset would close the half out strong after Jake Canner made an impressive contested off balance layup to give Syosset a 26-16 advantage at the half.
Syosset seemed to be in control of the game when the third quarter opened after Albernas drained an astounding third three of the game with 5:20 to go in the quarter. After Laine converted on a layup down low, Albernas blew past his defender and laid the ball in after he was fouled. Albernas would hit the free throw to complete the three point play and Syosset appeared to have all the momentum.
After the game Canner said he was impressed with the way Albernas was able to pick the whole team up when others were struggling to score.
“Nick was unbelievable for us tonight,” Canner said. “He really picked us up when we were looking for points and made some huge shots.”
Port Washington would attempt to rally back, led by Ryan Kristcher’s 18 points with a bulk of them coming down the stretch. After a Zach Greenspan three pointer to give Syosset a 42-35 lead Port Washington would get to as close as 43-40 with 2:37 to go in the game before Albernas came up with the defensive play of the day for Syosset. With time running down on the shot clock Albernas blocked Port Washington’s Josh Gordon attempt at a layup and Jake Canner made every free throw down the stretch to secure the gritty win for the Braves.
Albernas played the role of the hero for Syosset. For the second straight game Albernas scored over 20 points and was the leading scorer in both of those games. Once again Syosset relied on Albernas for offensive production when Syosset was struggling to generate any other forms of scoring for long periods of time. Albernas credits his belief in coach Kopp’s offensive system as the main reason for his success.
“We all believe in what we are doing here,” Albernas said after the game. “Our goal is to try to win games and I think that our coach does a great job of putting all of us in a situation to succeed.”
After the game Kopp spoke about the confidence he has in his sharp shooter.
“Nick is just so confident,” Kopp said. “He is more sure of himself because he knows that he is going to start. Nick just knows that he is a viable option on offense. When your coach is telling you to shoot the ball when you’re open and that we are drawing up plays for him, that has got to make you feel good as a player.”