The big man on campus puts up big numbers.
Ward Melville’s 6-foot 7-inch senior center Alex Sobel posted a double-double with a team-high 22 points and 24 rebounds in the Patriots’ third straight win — an 80-58 home decision over Sachem North Jan. 31.
Although offense comes naturally for the towering center, he also showed off his defensive skills against Sachem. Besides grabbing rebounds, he contributed six big blocks to keep the Patriots ahead, despite a slow start to the game.
After a layup by senior Dom Pryor to open the scoring, Sobel banked the next five points for his team. He scored nine and Pryor scored six of his 12 points in the game in the first eight minutes.
At the end of the first quarter, Ward Melville had a 17-12 advantage but watched that lead diminish when the Flaming Arrows outscored the Patriots 15-12 in the second, limiting Sobel to just one point. Junior Brendan Martin led Ward Melville that quarter with six points on two three-pointers.
But by the end of the third quarter, Ward Melville found its rhythm, and with help from five players, edged ahead 56-39. Sophomore Ray Grabowski led the team with 10 points, opening the quarter with a field goal and a three-pointer, and added another of each with back-to-back shots with four minutes left.
“We all played our hearts out and came out with the win we wanted,” said senior Matt Hudzik, who finished with 14 points. “Some shots weren’t falling my way. Ray Grabowski stepped up big and made a couple of really good shots.”
Martin added two more three-pointers in the quarter.
“We didn’t want the other team to slow us down,” Ward Melville head coach Alex Piccirillo said he told his team at halftime. “We dictate the pace and tempo, and once we got it going back in our direction, we made a few layups, got out fast and we were good to go.”
The Patriots spread the wealth in the final quarter, with seven players chipping in points.
“We shoot the ball pretty well,” Piccirillo said. “If our big guys are good, they go, if not, we kick it out and get good looks at threes.”
Two of the team’s nine trifectas were scored in the fourth quarter.
“This is a good group of guys, they can all score, they can all defend, so I’m feeling pretty positive about it,” Piccirillo said.
Hudzik said despite the offense, he’d like to see more from the Patriots on the defensive side.
“We were a little quiet on defense, and we need to get pumped up, get each other going,” he said. “We need to come out with more intensity, but we fought back when we needed to. We know our potential, we just need to play to it.”
Ward Melville’s basketball team has improved substantially over the last several years, and Piccirillo said he’s happy to see more kids buying into the program.
“I think five years ago we decided that we’re going to go all year round, we were going to get the younger guys involved and build the program,” he said. “We don’t take a month off, and they’ve bought into it. We have a nice group of kids, we put the athletes around them and they’re growing.”
Sobel said it’s nice to be a part of the program.
“It’s been great seeing our program grow,” he said. “We fought through adversity and this is the best team I’ve ever been a part of and we’re at our peak. We’re going to take this as far as we can.”