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Kevin Lawrence

Kings Park's Paul Cooper dribbles down the sideline. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Kings Park’s boys’ basketball team nearly doubled Huntington’s second-half score to remain atop the League IV leaderboard with a 69-49 come-from-behind win Dec.30.

The Kingsmen jumped out to an 8-1 lead before the Blue Devils rattled off 15 unanswered points for a 16-8 advantage at the end of the first quarter. Senior Kevin Lawrence netted nine of those points on four baskets and a free throw.

Kings Park clawed back to trail by five with just under four minutes left, a one-point lead minutes after, and senior guard Paul Cooper helped his team take the lead, 23-22, by banking four of six free-throw attempts on fouls.

Kings Park’s Richie Price scores a layup. Photo by Bill Landon

“In that first half we weren’t communicating, and then guys started to talk and make each other accountable,” Cooper said. “So we got on track, and played good defense and that leads to open shots.”

The teams traded scores, and Huntington junior guard Mekhi Harvey let the clock unwind before scoring a field goal, to give the Blue Devils a 26-25 edge heading into the locker room.

Kings Park opened the second half with a different defensive look. The Kingsmen swarmed with a full-court press as Huntington turned the ball over and paid the price each time. Harvey said he wasn’t surprised.

“We don’t take any team lightly’ and their defense was pretty rough going into the second half,” he said.
Kings Park head coach Christopher Rubé said he told his team they might get outplayed, but told the

Kingsmen to make sure they didn’t get out worked. They took it to heart.

“We increased the intensity in the second half,” Rubé said. “We’re 6-1 but I told them ‘you have to earn it every night,’ and I think they got that message.”

Kings Park senior Jeff Li hit a big three-pointer for his first points of the game to put his team back in front, 28-26, and next was senior Richie Price, who scored his third trey of the game. Junior guard Jason Hartglass followed with his third of the game,as the Kingsmen jumped out to a 45-31 lead, and Price struck again from three-point land to put his team out front 48-31.

“When you’re in the zone you’re not thinking about your shot, you’re just letting the game come to you,” Price said. “So when the ball comes to me, I’m not thinking about it, I’m just shooting.”

Kings Park sophomore Andrew Bianco opened the scoring for the final quarter with a three-point play for a 53-35 lead. And Price followed swishing his fifth three-pointer.

Huntingotn’s Kevin Lawrence scores on a rebound. Photo by Bill Landon

Price was splitting time with Liam Thompson before an injury against East Islip the game prior sidelined Thompson. Rubé said he was proud of Price, and happy for his showing. He led the team with 17 points.

“He played great defensively, he had  great energy, played hard on our press, and that spilled over to his offensive game,” he said. “He did a great job.”

Hartglass, who scored 15 points, let one fly from the left corner while getting knocked to the court by a defender, and saw his shot make it while sitting on the floor. Matter-of-factly, he made it a four-point play from the free-throw line.

“We definitely tightened up especially with communication,” Price said. “Not only did we play harder in the second half, we played smarter.”

Huntington had no answer.

“I would say we got more confident as a team,” Huntington junior Michael Abbondandelo said, despite head coach Brian Carey pulling his starters. “We started driving to the hole more and definitely got more rebounds. Our bench definitely earned that — they needed to go in at that point — it was right to put them in.”

With the win Kings Park improves to 7-1 overall and 3-0 in league play. The Kingsmen will face Half Hollow Hills West Jan. 3 at home at 5:45 p.m.

Harvey topped the scoring chart for the Blue Devils with 17 and Lawrence tacked on 14.

With the loss Huntington drops to 2-6 overall and  1-2 in the league and plays West Islip Jan. 3 at home at 5:45 p.m.

Huntington's Kenny Charles leaps up to the rim in the Blue Devils' 61-35 victory over Centereach on Jan. 5. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Huntington turned up the heat in the second half to close the door on previously undefeated Centereach, 61-35, in League III boys’ basketball action Tuesday night.

Centereach's Jake Marzocca shoots in the Cougars' 61-35 loss to Huntington on Jan. 5. Photo by Bill Landon
Centereach’s Jake Marzocca shoots in the Cougars’ 61-35 loss to Huntington on Jan. 5. Photo by Bill Landon

Centereach was previously 3-0 in league play and 6-1 overall, while Huntington sat at 1-2 and 1-6 before the win. The game was close after eight minutes of play, as the Cougars were ahead, 10-9, to open the second quarter, despite both teams being sluggish from the opening tipoff. The Blue Devils found their rhythm and the rim in the second, to pull ahead with the victory.

Huntington came alive behind the hot hands of senior guard Kenny Charles, who notched 10 points in the quarter after hitting a pair of three-pointers, a field goal and two foul shots. Teammate Quincy Nelson matched Charles with a pair of treys of his own to help put his team out front, 33-16, by the halftime break.

“We trusted each other and we executed out on the court, and that’s how we got the ‘W,’” said Nelson, who is also a senior guard. “They’re a very good team and coach told us at halftime that we had to take better shots.”

Huntington was patient in the second half, choosing to wait for the open shot rather than drive the lane. The Blue Devils were content with letting their three-point proficiency dominate the third quarter, as Charles hit his fourth and junior guard and forward Kevin Lawrence hit his second, while Nelson was fouled attempting his third, sending him to the charity stripe shooting three. Nelson was perfect from the line, and Huntington surged ahead 43-24 to begin the final eight minutes in regulation.

Huntington's Quincy Nelson sets the play in the Blue Devils' Jan. 5 61-35 victory over Centereach. Photo by Bill Landon
Huntington’s Quincy Nelson sets the play in the Blue Devils’ Jan. 5 61-35 victory over Centereach. Photo by Bill Landon

“We haven’t seen Huntington — we saw them once last year,” Centereach senior guard Kevin Callahan said. “We were told that they were going to shoot, and I guess we didn’t respect it, and they punished us for that.”

Charles said that knowing Centereach’s record, his team expected the worst, adding that all his team thought about was playing to win the game.

“We’re 1-2 in the league and our record doesn’t give our team justice,” he said. “In the second half, we knew we couldn’t let up. The game was far from over, but we came out with the win.”

Callahan hit his first three-pointer of the game and added a field goal in the fourth quarter, while fellow senior Jake Marzocca, a forward, found the net for two points, but the Cougars couldn’t keep the pace.

Centereach head coach Ed Miller, fresh off a recent scouting report, told his team that Huntington is a long-range scoring threat, but the Blue Devils were still hard to contain.

“We needed to do a better job at stepping out on them,” Marzocca said. “And when we did step out on them, it didn’t help. They were just hitting their shots — it was their game.”

Centereach's Kevin Callahan scores in the Blue Devils' Jan. 5 61-35 loss to Huntington. Photo by Bill Landon
Centereach’s Kevin Callahan scores in the Blue Devils’ Jan. 5 61-35 loss to Huntington. Photo by Bill Landon

For Huntington, the fourth quarter was all senior guard Dan Mollitor, who hit his third trifecta of the game and nailed a pair of free throws, while Charles hit a pair of three-pointers to finish with six on the night, as Huntington slammed the door on Centereach.

“They’re very, very good — I’ve picked them second in the league, and they’re at a different level than us right now,” Miller said. “I didn’t expect it to be an almost 30-point loss, but I expected them to be very good, especially at their own home place.”

Charles led his team with 26 points, followed by Lawrence, who added 13.

On the top of the scoring list for Centereach was Marzocca with 12 points, while Callahan followed close behind with nine.

Huntington hits the road today, as the Blue Devils invade West Islip, with opening tipoff scheduled for 5:45 p.m. Centereach will host North Babylon today at 6:15 p.m.

This versions corrects the name of Jake Marzocca.