Alec Ludwig had the game, the season and the chance to be the hero in his hands. Then he decided to pass it up.
With Great Neck North clinging to a two-point lead with 45 seconds left and the shot clock winding down, Ludwig -- who already had made three three-pointers -- found himself all alone beyond the arc. As the defense converged on him, he went up for the shot and made a quick calculation of the percentages. Then he passed down low to a wide-open Jonah Gorjian, who laid the ball in for his first points of the game.
The basket propelled No. 8 Great Neck North to a 50-42 win over No. 9 West Hempstead Friday in the first round of the Nassau Class A playoffs.
"The percentage of him hitting that layup is much higher than me hitting that three-pointer," Ludwig said. "That's the way I try to play. Pass first, shoot second."
At that moment, though, everyone in the gym was expecting him to shoot. Ludwig finished with 17 points, including four free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal the win. Gorjian also had four late free throws to finish with six points.
Jared Lewis added nine points for Great Neck North and Evan Dorman had eight, including the first six of the fourth quarter to open a 35-31 lead.
Tyree Glascoe, who had 16 points for West Hempstead (10-8), intercepted a pass and went coast-to-coast for a layup to cut the lead to 37-35 with 3:28 left. After a timeout by Great Neck North, play resumed with only four West Hempstead defenders on the court, creating a power play of sorts for Great Neck North. With the defense scrambling, Gilad Zohar knocked down an open corner three-pointer to increase the lead to five with 2:15 to go.
West Hempstead's Darren Davy (eight points) answered with a hook shot off the glass and Glascoe hit one of two free throws to cut the lead to two and set up Gorjian's layup.
"Being unselfish and taking quality shots," Great Neck North coach Mike Holleran said, "that's what it takes to win games."
The Blazers (14-4) will play at top-seeded Lawrence in the quarterfinals on Wednesday in a rematch of last season's semifinal game.
"We have to keep playing great defense and hopefully start hitting more shots," Ludwig said. "We've been working hard all season for this moment."