The Paramus Spartans (13-13) orchestrated a furious second-half comeback to defeat the Northern Valley Old Tappan Golden Knights(13-12) 64-60 in the Bergen County Invitational Tournament at St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale, New Jersey.
Paramus trailed Northern Valley Old Tappan by one with 25 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Off an inbound play, Corey Petruzzella tossed a pass to Luke Limbacher in the left corner of the court. Without hesitation, Limbacher buried his third trifecta of the quarter that put the Spartans ahead 62-60.
"My coach (Dan Reddan) trusted me on that play, and I know I was getting the ball and shooting it," Luke Limbacher explained. "So, once I got the ball, I shot it and went in."
Northern Valley Old Tappan still had several opportunities on the ensuing possession to tie the game up by hoisting up several shots that would not drop through into the bucket. Eventually, the Golden Knights had to foul on the play to stop the clock.
Mateen Aminyar stepped up to the charity stripe line and calmly drained two free throws to extend the Paramus advantage to 64-60 with 0.8 seconds remaining. Then Northern Valley Old Tappan called a timeout and hurled the ball to midcourt as time expired, setting off a jubilant celebration amongst the Spartans players and fans in the stands.
Aminyar poured in a game-high 22 points, Limbacher tallied 14 points, Firaol Tulu supplied 13 points, and Corey Petruzzella added 10 points. Limbacher was named the Most Valuable Player of the game.
"This means everything, all the hard work, being a team leader day in and out and all the tears, sweat and joy", Luke Limbacher explained. "It means a lot because this is my last year and a bunch of other guys, and you want to go out with a bang."
"Our coach (Dan Reddan) knew we all wanted to be in the championship since we didn't make it last year and could win it all this time. Even though he was yelling at us and running hard practices, he helped push each other." Coach (Reddan) said you got to want it, be aggressive, and believe in each other, and we knew we could come back and get this win."
"We've been down to a lot of big teams and believed and trusted in each other and that was a big factor. Time is not over until it zero-zero. They were taller but that doesn't mean anything because it's all in the heart and that's what we have and being physical."
"It's a big thing for the town and school because the girls lost and last year, we came in second and lost to Paramus Catholic in the final. It's really a big thing for us to come back home this year with the chip."
Mateen Aminyar also spoke about winning the Bergen Invitational Tournament Title, "I was on JV last year and didn't think I'd ever do this and just surreal. We hit one shot, cut it down and get a stop and make a lay-up and we kept doing it repeatedly and was starting to become real and not fake. I'm just happy we came out here and played our hearts out and won."
"We needed this so bad because last year we got second place in the loss to Paramus Catholic and everyone was feeling down. We knew that we had to come back here and show our coach, staff, fans, and teammates we can win this if we really put out hearts out there."
The Spartans trailed 12-11 at the end of the first quarter. The Golden Knights took control in the second quarter, as they outscored Paramus 25-10 to take a 37-21 lead at halftime. They also scored the first in the third quarter as the margin ballooned to 18 points.
However, the Spartans caught fire from behind the arc knocking down three long-range shots with Aminyar draining two triples while dropping eight points. Paramus ended up closing to within seven, as the they trailed 47-40 at the end of the period.
Aminyar, on facing a large deficit, "The minute we got down 18 points, I immediately thought of early in the season .We played Wayne Hills in the St. Mary's Tournament and were down 16 at the half. All these flashbacks were going through my head and the seniors in their last year, and I didn't want to be the reason why all these guys get home sent thinking what would have happened. I knew that I had to step up and start making the right reads and play my heart out and just win the game."
"Coach (Reddan) said to go out with your team and work together and win this game. Once we started hitting shots, we started gaining momentum and our attitudes were better. It made me play better and just a team effort."
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