By Andrew Wroblewski
Trailing Copiague by 10 points to enter the fourth quarter on Wednesday night, the Colts needed a spark.
In stepped Jon Faraci – or “Mr. Fourth Quarter,” as Head Coach Bill Mitaritonna calls him.
“He’s as clutch a player as we’ve ever had,” the coach said the senior forward.
Sinking back-to-back 3-pointers with minutes left to play, Faraci helped spark a 21-4 run by the Colts and 64-57 victory over No. 6 Copiague (16-5) in the Suffolk County semifinals at Farmingdale State University.
The win sends No. 2 Hills West (19-2) to its first Class AA final since 2011.
As clutch as Faraci was in the win, though, he might also become known as “Mr. Humble.”
“A shot’s a shot, no matter when it is in the game… I’m just happy I was able to give our team a spark,” he said. “We believe in each other, as a team; we played together in that second half and, when we play like that, it’s hard to stop us.”
After its rough start – the Colts were down by as many as 12 points in the second half – Hills West received scoring contributions up-and-down its roster.
Cameron Jordan, who Mitaritonna said played like an “All-American,” led the charge with 19 points. Faraci finished with 8 and Richard Altenord, one of the Colts’ leaders on the court, finished with 17.
“We weren’t playing well the entire game, but we just pulled it out [the win] because we don’t know if we’re ever going to get this opportunity again,” Altenord, a junior, said. “We might start off slow, but we always finish strong… That’s what we’ve been doing all year.”
One of Altenord’s good friends and teammate, Kian Dalyrimple gave the Colts momentum to end the third quarter with a buzzer-beater to bring Hills West within 10 points. To open up the fourth quarter, the 6-foot-4 junior was good again, but this time from beyond the arc to cut the Eagles’ lead to 7.
“We were pretty confident heading into the fourth quarter,” he said. “We just had to do our job… That’s really what it came down to.”
The Colts now prepare for a county championship game against No. 1 Brentwood (20-1) – to be hosted at Farmingdale Monday night with tip-off scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Not one of the 16 young men on Hills West’s roster truly knows what it’s like to take the court in a championship game – but the coaching staff does.
“In my professional life, there’s nothing like it,” Mitaritonna said of reaching the final. “This is the reason why you coach, the reason why you work with young people: to have them experience [a championship game] with you.”
While they haven’t played in a championship yet, many of the Colts looked forward to the game on Wednesday night.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Faraci said.
“I’ve never there before, but the school has been in it before so I think it’s going to be a great game and a great experience,” Dalyrimple added. “I’m ready to go out there and play basketball.”
“We’re going to go out with a bang, no regrets,” Altenord said.
For one Colt in particular though, the feeling of a county championship isn’t completely unheard of – he’ll just be playing in it instead of watching his older brother.
“He’s not the only one bragging about it now,” Deven Williams, a junior on this year’s Hills West team whose brother, Denzel, played for the 2010-2011 Colts. “He’s won one and now I need to win one too.”