By Jim Ferchland
Miller Place started off hot with a 24-18 lead over Amityville at the end of the first quarter, but it went downhill for the Panthers, which fell to Amityville 98-58 Jan. 8.
In the blink of an eye, the Warriors pushed the tempo and went on a 22-0 run to start the second quarter. Amityville was ahead of the Panthers 32-12 over the eight-minute span, and could not come back from being outscored 80-34 in the final three stanzas. Amityville improves to 9-1 on the season and 6-0 in League VI while the Panthers drop to 4-7 on the year and 3-4 in conference play.
Miller Place head coach Brian Sztabnick was content with how his team played in the first quarter, saying he thought there were three things his Panthers did well.
“No. 1 we switched defenses a lot so we can get them off guard, giving them different looks,” Sztabnick said about the positives in the first quarter. “No. 2, we hit shots, so that’s always going to help. No. 3, we took care of the basketball. We didn’t have many turnovers; we did everything in our game plan that we wanted to do.”
Senior Alex Herbst led Miller Place with 11 points, and sophomores Daniel Berrios and Thomas Cirrito added 10 each. Herbst was not pleased with the loss, mainly because he believes Amityville can be taken down.
“I’m frustrated because I feel like [Amityville] can be a beatable team,” Herbst said. “We showed that we can play with them in the first quarter, and then everything just dropped off.”
Four players scored in double-figures for the Warriors. Senior Joshua Serrano led Amityville with 24 points, and behind him was sophomore Divaahd Lucas with 20, senior Jayson Robinson with 18 and freshman Julius Goddard with 13.
Berrios was expecting a hostile environment playing in Amityville. He said he was amped up to compete.
“I was excited,” Berrios said about playing against Amityville. “I was expecting it to be crazy; I wanted that. I couldn’t wait to play in that atmosphere. I couldn’t wait to take it all in and play against them and against adversity.”
Despite the 40-point win, Amityville’s Gordon Thomas said he’s learned to always keep his foot on the gas pedal against any team. He added his team used the first quarter as motivation to bounce back.
“Never underestimate your opponent,” Thomas said. “In the first quarter, they were beating us. I said to my guys that you can’t put the switch on and off at any time. When you go out there, you have to be ready to play.”
Sztabnick understood Amityville was undefeated in League VI coming into this game, and for him, it wasn’t about winning, it was about testing to see if his Miller Place team can play with an undefeated one like Amityville.
“I wanted to see if we can maintain poise,” Sztabick said. “With a team like this that’s as talented as they are, highly-ranked as they are, you know they’ll be ready to go on a run especially on their home court.”
In the second quarter, Amityville was reckless with points off turnovers. Sztabnick said his team’s transition defense struggled to respond.
“With the way we started, we proved we can play with them,” he said. “One of the things we have to work on is maintaining that over a period of time. It’s one thing to do it for eight minutes in a quarter. After they went on a 22-0 run, we cut it to seven at one point, so we still fought back, but eventually their speed, size and athleticism was overpowering us.”
Miller Place looks to bounce back today, Jan. 11, against Hampton Bays. Tipoff is currently scheduled for 4:30 p.m.