The Great Neck North gym was packed and rocking on Feb. 13.
The Blazers hosted its first playoff game in four years, and it was against well-disciplined Hall of Fame coach George Bruns’s Manhasset Indians.
“The atmosphere is electric,” commented Bobby Anastasia, aka Mr. Manhasset. “All of Northern Boulevard is here.”
From the opening tip, the game went back and forth as guards Shirian and Themelis controlled the tempo.
“This was such a well-played game, it’s unfortunate anyone had to lose,” said former Holy Cross standout Paul Valenti.
In the end, the Manhasset Indians prevailed 49-48 in what will be talked about for years as The Battle of Northern Boulevard.
Rather than discuss the details of the game, let’s discuss those who have devoted their hard work and sacrifice for the Blazers over the years.
This senior class will always be remembered as a talented athletic academic group with accolades galore.
Injuries sidelined seniors Ben Bassal, Joe Gohari and baseball phenomenon Joey Jacobs. If they were healthy, this article would surely be delayed.
Oren Nasab has always been a tough kid. He is a go-getter, the one who takes a charge for his team and sacrifices for the overall benefit of the group.
Roger Hyman, who will be attending Cornell in the fall, earned the award of All-County Scholar Athlete. He is a perfect example of what a true student athlete is. His athletic and academic résumé already surpass those of people twice his age. His unselfish attitude is also displayed off the court—he is a true mensch.
Eric Shirian, the PG who nobody could defend, was named All Conference. This incredible guard suffered a torn ACL just a year ago. Through hard work and a no-quit attitude, he not only ran the show on the hardwood, but also captained the volleyball team. Shirian has always been able to find ways to succeed on the court and will continue to in life. His creativity and persistence will be missed and, hopefully, future guards will model him.
Daniel Sharifian averaged more than 20 points a game this year and is the true definition of a basketball junkie. No matter whether it’s 40 degrees and raining or 90 and sunny, Sharifian is at Memorial Park playing basketball. He has been coaching younger kids and is a terrific role model for all. Snubbed last year for All Conference, Sharifian jumped over defenders and earned the accolade of All County this year. His athleticism is second to none, and he will be playing in college next year.
What can we say about Julien Hakimian? He reached 1,000 career points and was named All County again this year. He is a natural born leader and his soccer and basketball accomplishments are paramount, to say the least. Boston University is lucky to have this true, quintessential star. Hakimian has carried the Blazers, and losing him was a devastating blow. Although he missed the final five games, coaches respected him so much that they made him All County without hesitation. His gregarious demeanor off the court makes him a local celebrity.
GNN center Eliot Kadouri is what sports are all about. This fun-loving big man worked hard. When he wasn’t practicing his low-post moves or icing his knees, Kadouri was in the weight room perfecting his physique. He played with emotion and lives his life in the same manner. Retired principal Bernie Kaplan was often heard saying, “We need Kadouri. He is the difference.” This is clearly the truth, because when All-Division Kadouri came back this year, the Blazers were unstoppable. He was the backbone of the team, as well as the enforcer.
All in all, it has been an honor to follow this group of fantastic young men develop throughout the years. Every once in a while, a class of students bond together and move us as fans. GNN will be challenged to replicate a class like this so, in appreciation, we must all thank the students for raising the bar for the youth who will follow them.
Years from now, there may be more successful teams and individual heroes but, collectively, this group is nothing short of perfect.