John Demas has coached basketball in Queens for nearly 40 years, most recently as the girls’ varsity coach at Maspeth HS. “I love it,” Demas said. And while his exploits never included coaching a game at Madison Square Garden, Demas experienced some welcome recognition at center court of the famed arena as one of the four city public school coaches honored during the Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament in March. “Just to be on the floor in the ultimate setting for basketball was a thrill,” said Demas, who coached the boys’ varsity at Bryant HS for 25 years and then the boys’ team at Newtown HS for five years before taking his current post at Maspeth. Joining Demas, who retired in 2011 but continues to coach, at halftime of the St. John’s-Villanova game on March 9 was Floyd Bank, who took over the basketball program at Long Island City HS in Queens in 1961 and went on to become one of the winningest coaches at the high school level in New York State history with 592 victories. The night before, current Newtown HS boys’ coach Pat Torney and Flushing HS girls’ coach Carla Nasso received the same recognition. “It was awesome being honored on the court that the greatest players play on,” Nasso said. The coaches joined such notables as former Mayor David Dinkins, New York Met pitching great John Franco and one-time New York Ranger forward Nick Fotiu, who were recognized by Big East Conference Commissioner Val Ackerman for their ongoing contributions to the youth of the city.
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