Seward survives and advances

The ending had S.S. Seward fans on the edge of their seats at the Kaplan Center in Mount Saint Mary.

Seward held on for a 61-60 win over Bridgehampton in the state Class D opening round.

John Guerra and Andrew Sanchez missed the front end of 1-and-1s to keep the game’s outcome in doubt until the waning seconds. Seward’s defense prevented Bridgehampton from getting up a shot before the final buzzer.

“We just had to stop the ball,” said Guerra, who had 26 points. “We missed some free throws and we couldn’t let that get to us.”

Seward coach Rob Gravelle warned his players about an early run from Bridgehampton. And sure enough, the Bees of Suffolk County, Long Island, opened with a 10-1 start. Seward’s first-half comeback was led by Guerra and junior reserve Andrew Sanchez. Sanchez scored nine points in the second quarter as the Spartans tied the game 34-34 at halftime.

“That showed me a lot that we withstood that early 10-1 run and stayed in the game,” Gravelle said.

Guerra was 12-for-25 for the field and had a few shots rim out.

Seward’s bench led by Sanchez, Bobby Verblaauw and Matt Stam outscored Bridgehampton 20-7.

Stam, a sophomore known as a defensive specialist, was the hero for Seward. Stam’s 3-pointer broke a 58-58 tie with 52.4 seconds. The clutch shot was Stam’s only points of the game.

“He’s been very patient as a sophomore on varsity,” Gravelle said of Stam. “Honestly, there’s no moment that’s too big for him. He’s relaxed. He goes out there and gives 100 percent. He gives up everything whether he plays two minutes or 10 minutes. He’s hit some big shots in the last couple of (games) for sure.”

Old-school box score
S.S. SEWARD (61)
John Guerra 12 1-5 26; Ryan Stam 1 0-0 2; Vinny Vinetti 0 1-2 1; A.J. Valenti 3 2-3 8; Nick Knecht 1 2-2 4;  Matt Stam 1 0-0 3; Bobby Verblaauw 2 0-0 5; Andrew Sanchez 5 0-1 12. Totals 25 6-13 61.
Elijah Harding 4 2-3 10; Elijah White 1 0-0 2; Nae-Jon Ward 1 2-2 5; Nykell Dean 5 3-4 17; Elijah Jackson 7 5-5 19; J.P. Harding 2 3-4 7.  Totals 20 15-18 60

Seward 16 18 20 7-61
Bridgehampton 21 13 12 14-60

Halftime: S.S. Seward 34, Bridgehampton 34. Three-pointers: Seward – Guerra 3, Sanchez 2, Verblaauw, Matt Stam. Bridgehampton – Dean 4, Ward.

Check out videos of Stam’s shot, the game’s final moments, an interview with Stam and Seward’s starting lineup

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    Award-winning writer Sal Interdonato has been on the Army football beat since 2007. He'll take you inside the huddle and into the lives of the Black Knights. Read Full
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