With its hopes of returning to the Nassau Class AA boys’ basketball playoffs hanging by a thread, Calhoun played like a determined team last Friday afternoon and led Long Beach from start to finish in a 61-46 Conference AA-III victory.
The visiting Colts (4-4 in conference games, 9-6 overall) scored the first seven points and never looked back on the way to avenging a one-point overtime loss to the Marines (4-4, 4-10) back on Jan. 9. Both teams are in playoff position with just two games remaining in the regular season.
“I didn’t tell the kids how much we needed it, but this was an important win,” Calhoun head coach Jay Kreutzberger said. “While we came in here with a four-game losing streak, three of those games could’ve been ours.
“Early in the game we had some of our best ball movement,” he added. “We knocked down a lot of our shots and that allowed us to get into our pressure which bothered them.”
The Colts had four double-digit scorers for the second time this season, led by senior point guard Kyle McGinley’s 19 points. Senior Eric Ohlendorf scored 11 of his 15 points in the opening quarter, igniting a 21-13 start, senior Chris Melito had seven of his 11 points in the fourth, and senior Brian Downey chipped in 10 points.
“We got out-energized and turned the ball over 21 times,” Long Beach head coach T.J. Burke said after his team lost its third straight conference game after winning four of five. “They came out flying and were more aggressive.”
Senior Tyquan Scott, who scored 35 points and ripped down 20 rebounds to pace the Marines in the first meeting, had a game-high 25 including an emphatic slam dunk in the second quarter. Stefan Pitts and D.J. Quinnie had five points apiece.
“In the game we played against them the first time, we didn’t turn them over nearly as much as we needed to,” Kreutzberger said. “We didn’t play fast enough. Today we played faster and made them a little uncomfortable.”
Kreutzberger also praised the efforts of Melito, Downey and Colin Bayer in the paint. “They did an excellent job on the boards,” he said.
After trailing by as many as 12 in the first half, Long Beach made it a one-possession game early in the third quarter after two baskets by Scott, one by Pitts, and a pair of Joseph Lycon free throws cut Calhoun’s advantage to 35-32. The Colts re-upped the lead to double digits thanks to an eight-point run, highlighted by a steal and layup by McGinley.
“We played almost as bad as we could in the first half, yet we were only down seven,” Burke said. “We were in it, but whenever we got close we had some untimely turnovers.”
Long Beach and Calhoun are tied for third place. The Marines have first-place Elmont and last-place Mepham remaining, while the Colts get Elmont as well as second-place Great Neck South.