Owls Avenge Sole Loss in Thriller over VS South

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Owls Avenge Sole Loss in Thriller over VS South

Christian Squitieri

Christian Squitieri

Christian Squitieri

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The gymnasium was jam-packed this past Friday night, January 25, for the boys’ varsity basketball team’s biggest game of the season. After an unfortunate loss to conference rival Valley Stream South, the sole blemish on an otherwise perfect regular season record, Head Coach Jamie Adams looked to give the Owls the inspiration they needed to get over the hump and take down the Falcons in front of a frenzied Owls crowd strong in energy and sheer number; by the time tip-off came around, dozens of spectators were left watching from the gym floor, with the entirety of the bleachers overflowing. 

The Owls started the game off strong, using their quickness to force turnovers and convert easy baskets on the fast break. After the first quarter, the Owls led 20-13. However, Valley Stream became smarter with the ball, opting for shorter passes and minimizing the Owls’ chances to generate chances the other way.  

Christian Squitieri

The second quarter was back and forth, and tempers began to flare on both benches. With the Owls still dominating the glass on the defensive end of the court, they clung to a mere six point lead, 34-28, at the half. The Falcons came out firing on all cylinders in the third quarter, cutting the deficit to a one possession game on multiple occasions, using the three-point ball to swing momentum their way. Senior Owls guard made sure to put an end to that abrupt momentum shift with a nifty crossover at midcourt, sending the defender guarding him to the floor and sending the crowd into shambles. Despite this, Valley Stream still hung around, down 49-45 heading into the final frame.  

Christian Squitieri

After back-to-back stops on defense, the Falcons scored on consecutive possessions to take the lead, 53-52, with 6:35 left, their first lead since the score was 2-0. As the clock slowly winded down and the teams were still deadlocked in an enthralling battle, the crowd reach its apex, screaming louder than they had all season, looking to give their team the last boost it needed to emerge victorious. With 4:35 left, senior forward James Montgomery received the ball near the basket, missed a layup, but grabbed his own rebound and scored on and and-one, giving the Owls a four-point lead, 61-57. After two free throws by senior guard John Donaldson and captain Rylan Blondo to put Lynbrook up 65-61, Donaldson was able to hit a short-range bank shot while fading away from the basket to put Lynbrook up six with 1:18 left. The Valley Stream bench was dejected, and the Owls held on for the final 78 seconds to secure their biggest win of the season to date, 75-64. The win, the Owls ninth in a row since their loss to Valley Stream South on December 21, now hold sole possession of first place in the Nassau County Conference A-IV standings.  

Blondo was the first on the Owls to compliment how well the team adapted after their prior loss to the Falcons. “We get rebounds. Last game, they out-rebounded us. They sped us up [last time], so we played our game, our speed. We’re very hard to beat [when we do that].” Blondo, who finished the night with 18 points, ten of which came in the fourth quarter, is averaging 24.3 points per game this season, second best out of all Nassau County public schools. In addition to Blondo’s contribution on the scoreboard, three other Owls players scored in double digits: fellow seniors James Montgomery (20), Brandon Pekale (18, including two three-pointers), and John Donaldson (10), who scored his 700th career varsity point. Coach Adams, who seeks to lead the Owls to their first conference championship in his five years at the helm, felt that the team excelled at patching up areas where they have faltered at in the past. “I don’t know that we did that much different. We really just tightened the screws. There were a lot of things that got loose against [Valley Stream] last game. That loss was an eye opener for us on many fronts.” Coach Adams also commended his players on their tenacious efforts on defense. “We knew that [defense] was the area of the game that we would have to be better. I think we did a pretty good job of making them take tough shots.” LHS Principal Joseph Rainis was extremely proud of both the performance by the team and especially by the massive turnout from and overwhelming support and enthusiasm by the fans. “The excitement that the students brought tonight was awesome, and it’s thrilling that the [team] is having such a wonderful season.” Rainis also elaborated on how the success of the team is trickling into everyday life at LHS. “Any time you have a winning season, for a [sport] like basketball, you’re setting things up for excitement. When I pulled into the parking lot about [15 minutes before tipoff], I had to park way down… I knew it was going to be a big night.” 

Christian Squitieri

With only four games left in the regular season, the Owls are determined to stay focused and keep their eyes on the prize: that elusive conference title. “[We have to] Ignore the noise,” commented coach Adams. “The only team that can [sic] beat us is us. If we give other teams opportunities to get second shots and extended possessions, we’re gonna have a hard time,” said Adams. “One game at a time,” said Blondo. “We’re going to win the rest of the games… and try to be conference champions.” If the Owls keep playing like they did last Friday, they will certainly be the team to beat when the playoffs roll around.      

 

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