Freshman is front man for Patriots trifecta trio
Despite a 66-55 loss to Sachem East Monday, the Ward Melville boys’ basketball team can rest easier knowing it has three leading three-point shooters, including freshman shooting guard Ray Grabowski, who scored 17 points on the evening off five trifectas and a field goal.
“We need to play a little harder, smarter and we could have played better defense,” he said. “But I think we’re all pretty good at shooting three-pointers. I took the shots where I felt they would go in and I made them, so it felt pretty good today.”
Ward Melville senior Tim Specht put the first points on the board with a layup, but Sachem East scored the next six points to take the lead before Ward Melville junior forward Dominic Pryor nailed his first of three three-pointers in the first quarter to cut the deficit to one, 6-5.
“I think we played good, but we just could’ve used a lot more effort,” Pryor said. “They outplayed us.”
Ward Melville sophomore Brendan Martin also swished a three-point field goal, but by the end of the first eight minutes, Sachem East was up 18-16.
The Patriots nailed seven three-pointers in the first half alone, as Martin tacked on his final trifecta and Grabowski added two more, but the team was still behind 32-31 as a result of sending too many Sachem East players to the foul line.
“Our guys are comfortable shooting from anywhere; we practice it,” Ward Melville first-year head coach Alexander Piccirillo said. “Everyone has the green light, so they can shoot it from wherever they want when they’re open.”
Ward Melville scored the first four points of the third stanza to take a 35-32 lead, but the Patriots had some breakdowns on defense, leading to nine straight Sachem East points.
The two teams scored, and Ward Melville couldn’t cut the deficit after Sachem East’s tare, leading to a 47-41 score by the end of 24 minutes.
“I think that we didn’t really play so well, but we were in it until the end,” junior point guard Noah Kepes said. “We’ll continue to do what we do every day in practice, but continuing working on our shooting will help in the future.”
Grabowski managed three more three-pointers in the final quarter, but fouls proved to be a lingering issue, as Sachem East scored 10 points off free throws alone.
“Our intensity definitely decreased when we saw they were gaining on that lead, but that can’t happen anymore,” Pryor said. “We need to work on playing as a team and not letting one or two players take all the shots.”
Piccirillo said he thinks his team played hard for half of the final eight minutes, where the team used a 1-and-1 opportunity to pull within two points, 51-49, but the team would only manage six more points to Sachem East’s 15.
“I don’t think we played with the right effort to win the game,” Piccirillo said. “We played hard for like four minutes and then it kind of fell apart. We’ll just make sure that we play for all 32 minutes next game.”