HICKSVILLE, NY - NYCHoops.net Long Island's #2 ranked Amityville went into Sunday's game against #6 ranked Baldwin at the Nassau vs. Suffolk Challenge at the Hicksville Athletic Center wanting to make a point.
They are thought of as one of the best on Long Island, but beating the Bruins would give them another solid win, and solidify their spot as the team to beat in Class A. They got off to a quick start behind the hot shooting of junior guard Mike Smith, and they never looked back, taking down Baldwin 73-64, in Hicksville.
Going into the game, the talk of Amityville being the best on Long Island has been growing, and it is a becoming a popular conversation amongst the Warriors as well according to wingman Travis Dickerson.
"We think about it, we got a good team, and we want to show that we are one of the best out there," Dickerson said.
They needed a really impressive performance against Baldwin though to make that talk stick. Coming out and giving a first class effort against the Bruins was something Warriors coach Jack Agostino demanded, and it was something that he got.
Smith came out hot, scoring 13 points in the opening quarter, and setting the tempo on offense, and defense as the Warriors applied harassing ball pressure to build up a 27-12 lead after 1. Smith said it was important that the team got out to the quick start to set the tone they wanted.
"It was important for us to stay composed, run our sets, and listen to coach. We wanted to get out quick, and we did what we could do do that," Smith said,
They continued to thrive offensively, and with Baldwin big man Paul Nosworthy having to be careful on the inside with 2 fouls, it allowed Amityville to be able to attack the rim and take a 44-25 lead into the break.
The Warriors took a commanding 51-27 lead midway through the 3rd before Baldwin really started to trap the ball, and create turnovers of their own. Sophomore guard Shane Gatling paced a 12-0 run for Baldwin to give the Bruins hope once again late in the 3rd, and even though letting a 24 point lead drop to 12 didn't make Agostino happy, he felt it was something that helped them at the same time.
"I like them to feel the sense of urgency, I like when the score gets down there a little so they can fight through it, which should help us down the road," the coach said.
Dickerson broke the run with a stepback jumper, as he scored 6 to finish the quarter to up the lead back up for Amityville to 16.
While Amityville was never able to put the game away, they never let it get away from them either, something that Dickerson said was extremely important for the teams confidence.
"We never let up. We gave 100% effort, and to be able to do that against a good team like Baldwin, it helped us the rest of the way," Dickerson noted.
The lead did get cut to single digits near the end of the game when both teams cleared their benches, but Amityville was firmly in control throughout, helping Suffolk win the Challenge 3 games to 2, and winning the game, 73-64.
Smith led all scorers in the game, pouring in 24 for Amityville, with Dickerson adding 19, and Agostino knows just how important it is to have such a potent 1-2 combo on his side.
"It's a great luxury to have them both. I am looking around Long Island and I don't know if anyone has two better wings than we have, so to have them both really helps us a lot," Agostino said.
Baldwin in the loss was paced by the 13 points of D'Marco Barnes, while Nosworthy and Myking Richardson each added 11 and 10 respectively.
It was an important win for Amityville who will continue to be thought of as one of the best on Long Island, and though they respect Long Island Lutheran, Agostino wishes they could have the chance to face off and see who the tops on the Island right now really are.
"I would like to have a shot at LuHi that's for sure."
Elmont closes down Deer Park, 72-59
It's been a tough last couple days for Elmont leading into their game versus #5 ranked Deer Park in the Nassau vs. Suffolk Challenge on Sunday. They fell to Long Beach on Friday night in league play, and all of the Spartan players said that they needed to make a statement against a good Falcons team, and though they got off to a slow start, a pair of big 2nd half runs pushed Elmont past Deer Park, 72-59.
Elmont is a team that is primarily led by seniors, so after Friday's loss, coach George Holub didn't have to say much, because as guard Tristan Brown said, they understood what they needed to do.
"Coach didn't say much, and he didn't have to, because we knew ourselves we shouldn't have lost that game, and we needed to come out better today," Brown said.
Holub called Friday night "an abomination", and stressed that he knew that what he saw then was not a true representation of Elmont basketball.
Sunday didn't start out much better though for his group, as the outside shooting touch of Karon Blackwell, and the penetration play of Aaren Edmead, got the Spartans behind early, and Deer Park led 31-26 at the half, and according to Brown, Holub stressed at the half that something had to change.
"Coach said we needed to lock down on defense on Edmead, and play defense that he knows we are capable of," Brown said.
Holub felt the man to man defense they were utilizing wasn't working, and after getting down 43-36 with 3:28 to go in the 3rd, he had seen enough and felt it was time for a change.
"We went to the 2-3 which isn't our natural defense, but Edmead was killing us getting inside. When we switched and went straight zone at the end of the 3rd, that's when everything changed," Holub said.
It did seem to give the Spartans the jolt they needed. Andrew Codrington was able to get out in transition for a pair of easy buckets, Chiazam Nwankwo came down and hit a big three from the wing, and Brown finished the quartet by attacking down the lane for a deuce. The zone held the Falcons scoreless in the last 3 minutes of the quarter as Elmont finished on a 15-0 run to take a 51-43 lead after 3.
While the zone look was something Holub said was unexpected, Deer Park Head Coach John McCaffrey said he was waiting for the time the Spartans broke it out, he was just disappointed with their results against it.
"I saw them against Holy Trinity and they didn't play one possession of man to man there, so I thought they would go zone, and I didn't feel it particularly give us problems, we just didn't execute," McCaffrey said.
The Falcons did come out better to start the 4th though, and went on to tie the game back up at 55 with 4:25 to play after back to back threes from Edmead and Kahwahn Nipper, but the defense ended up letting down McCaffrey again soon after.
"We played terrible transition defense, we played terrible help defense, we just didn't play well there," McCaffrey added.
What let them down was they let Keith Tompkins get open for a pair of huge threes late. Brown pushed the tempo, and found Tompkins open in the corners where he nailed the long balls to put the game away. Nwankwo was huge on the inside as well finishing up in the lane as well, as Elmont closed the game on a 17-4 run, and they took the win, 72-59.
Nwankwo paced Elmont with 19 points in the win, while Codrington added 15, with Tompkins and Brown each chipping in 14.
Edmead and Blackwell each had 19 points for Deer Park to lead the way for the Falcons in the defeat.
While his team was down early, Holub never got rattled he said, believing in his team, knowing they have something that only some can understand.
"Honestly these kids have something inside of them that is truly a senior thing, and this is there last shot, and they really want to make sure they represent Elmont, and the way Elmont plays basketball," Holub said.
Nwankwo said it's all about the team chemistry and the bond the team has, and while Friday still remains a sore spot for the team, Brown says that Sunday is the start of something new for the Spartans.
"It's a really big win to make a statement right now, and after our loss on Friday, this was a great way to start up a new streak and make sure we do something special the rest of the way."
Uniondale slaps Newfield 64-36
With Knights coach Tom Diana returning to the sidelines for the first time this season because of lung surgery, Uniondale came out with a purpose, to play well and win it for their coach, as the coasted by Newfield, 64-36.
Big man Alan MacDonald had 14 points to pace Uniondale in the victory, with Imran Ritchie chipping in 8.
Jarrell Cowell led the way for Newfield in the loss with 12 points.
Harborfields Upends #9 Farmingdale, 59-49
Tanner Morrow (H)- 18 points
Malcom Wynter (H)- 14 points
Curtis Jenkins (F)- 20 points
Smithtown West defeats Jericho, 53-39
Tyler Weigl (SW)- 13 points
Peter Torres (SW)- 12 points
Michael Goren (J)- 12 points