Demarest survives Ramapo, wins North 1, Group 3 title by Greg Mattura of The Record
FRANKLIN LAKES – As a standout quarterback, senior Austin Albericci understands time management, so he knew to allow as many seconds as possible to tick off the clock.
By the time Albericci picked up the ball, stepped out of bounds and threw a long inbounds pass Tuesday, NV/Demarest had secured its first sectional title in 13 years.
The Norsemen defeated top-seeded Ramapo 37-36 to win the North 1, Group 3 boys’ basketball title, and Albericci’s no-hurry walk to inbound the ball created a controversial finish.
“I picked it up and looked at the clock and saw about four [seconds] and I thought, ‘Let me just hold onto it,’” Albericci said. “And then I just threw it deep.”
Ramapo and its fans were more than a tad annoyed when referees opted not to stop the clock after junior John Whooley hit a three-pointer with 10.2 seconds left to cut the deficit to 37-36 and Albericci did not step out of bounds with the ball until there were 4.6 seconds remaining. In that situation, with Ramapo out of timeouts, it is the officials’ discretion whether to stop the clock or let it run.
“The ball went in with 10 seconds, the ball was in the hoop with 10 seconds,” Ramapo coach Joey Sandberg said.
NV/Demarest coach Joe Dionisio, who won a state title at Bergen Catholic with Sandberg as his point guard, instructed the Norsemen that, if Ramapo scored a basket, to let several seconds run off the clock before picking it up and inbounding it.
“Yes, [because Ramapo] was out of timeouts,” Dionisio explained. [Albericci] did the right thing. He threw it almost the length of the floor when there was almost nothing left on the clock.”
This was an intense defensive battle, so much so that no player scored in double figures. For NV/Demarest, Zach Stimmel and Joe Rotonde scored nine apiece and fellow senior Jake Runyon eight. For Ramapo, Max Pernetti scored nine and junior KC Hunt and senior Jason Oppler scored eight apiece.
NV/Demarest led 37-33 lead with 16 seconds left after Rotonde made two free throws. The Norsemen had taken a 35-33 lead with 1:01 remaining on two free throws by junior reserve Nick Argenziano.
Ramapo had tied the score at 33 with 1:09 remaining in the fourth on a three-pointer from the right wing by Pernetti.
Reviewing the video, Whooley’s three-pointer from the left corner went through the basket with 10.2 seconds left. Hunt grabbed the ball and attempted to hand it to Albericci with 7.8 seconds, but Albericci declined to take it and let it fall to the floor. Albericci then picked up the ball at 4.6 seconds, stepped out of bounds, and threw a three-quarter-court pass at 1.8 seconds, not enough time for Hunt, who stole the pass, to get off a 60-foot heave.
“I’m so happy for our guys and our kids,” Dionisio said. “They’ve put the effort in for the last two or three years. So this has been building all the way to this point, and I’m so happy that they’ve gotten this out of it.”