NEC Rivalry Week has arrived. This marks the second year the league’s geographic rivals – and not so geographic in some cases – go head-to-head in home-and-home series. In some ways it resembles a two-game playoff. The team that drops the first game of the series has an opportunity to avenge the loss just 48 or 72 hours later.Here at the NEC, our favorite rivalry game predated NEC Rivalry Week. In fact, it took place nearly eight years ago on February 22, 2003. It matched up Long Island and St. Francis (NY), Brooklyn neighbors separated by just about a mile. At the time both teams were in the middle of the NEC standings, fighting for a playoff berth, so you knew the game would be hotly contested as always. No one, however, could have predicted what would happen that Saturday afternoon at the Pope Center. In what will go down as perhaps the NEC’s most memorable contest, Long Island guard Antawn Dobie turned in the most brilliant single-game performance in league annals. The Corona, NY guard exploded for an NEC single-game record 53 points. But that wasn’t all. He also dished out 15 assists. He was directly involved in 87 of LIU’s points that day! You’d think those numbers would guarantee a victory for the Blackbirds. Not on this night. Not in this rivalry. While Dobie was putting on a one-man show, the Terriers received stellar performances from a pair of Brooklyn products. Freshman sharpshooter John Quintana (Lincoln) came off the bench to register a career-high 31 points and senior forward Clifford Strong (Bishop Loughlin) added 29 points. Likewise, future All-NEC point guard Tory Cavalieri dished for 13 assists.
Carrying the Blackbirds on his back, Dobie played the role of hero on more than one occasion. His 40-foot runner as time expired (see below) forced overtime and sent the evenly split crowd into a frenzy.
His two free throws at the end of the first extra session sent the game into double overtime. He then scored five of his team’s 11 points in the second overtime. One would think destiny would be on Dobie’s side as the game reached its final climax, but his potential game-winning 17-foot jumper went in and out with five seconds to play and the Blackbirds trailing by one.It was one of the very few shots Dobie missed on the day. In the end, St. Francis (NY) won the Battle of Brooklyn that year. The score: 142-140. To this day, it remains the highest scoring game in NEC history. No single team has ever scored that many points in an NEC game before or since. But while the Terriers emerged victorious and even go on to play in the 2003 NEC title game, it was Dobie’s day. One that is still remembered fondly by those who were there.
One thing is for sure. St. Francis was happy to see Dobie graduate and move on to the professional ranks. As if the 53/15 game wasn’t enough, he also doled out 17 helpers when the two teams met two months earlier. In two games against the Terriers that season, Dobie averaged 36.5 points and 16.0 assists.These days, Dobie is know to many around the City simply as “Anti-Freeze.” He is New York’s premier streetballer, a title bestowed on him after being named Nike Streetball Performer of the Summer after leading his team to the Nike Pro City crown, as well as a second team to the Tournament of Champions title, in the summer of 2010.
(February 8, 2011)