After falling behind visiting Bethpage by 12 points late in the opening quarter and missing 10 straight shots from three-point range, Hewlett maintained its poise, heated up from the outside, and turned up the defensive pressure to earn a 65-56 victory in a Nassau Class A boys’ basketball first-round playoff game last Saturday morning.
The sixth-seeded Bulldogs finished 7-for-20 from behind the arc, with seniors Avery Feldman (game-high 19 points, 12 rebounds) and Bryan Eckerle (14 points) nailing three apiece, and held the Golden Eagles without a field goal for the first 12 minutes of the second half.
“I thought our effort in the second half was great,” Hewlett head coach Bill Dubin said. “We’ve had some slow starts, but we’ve been able to finish strong. We let their shooters loose early, but we came out of our zone and they had trouble scoring after that.”
Greg Gerber and Brett Tarnell had 16 points apiece for No. 11 Bethpage, which trailed by as many as 19 points in the second half after racing to a 16-4 lead behind Carl O’Brien’s pair of treys. “I watched a bunch of their games on film and they didn’t handle a zone very well,” Dubin said. “Today was the best they played against a zone, so we were forced to make an adjustment.”
Hewlett’s offense began to show life late in the first quarter, and baskets by Feldman and Eckerle off assists from senior point guard Dimitri Baptiste cut Bethpage’s lead to 16-8. In the second, junior Joe Pasquale gave the Bulldogs (12-6) a spark at both ends of the floor with a couple of baskets in traffic, four blocked shots, and four rebounds. “He’s come on strong,” Dubin said of Pasquale, who posted a double-double (11 points, 15 rebounds) in the Conference A-II regular-season finale win at Great Neck North. “He’s got a long reach and played a big role today,” he added.
Hewlett’s first successful trey, from junior Ryan Steinberg, came with three minutes left in the half and provided its first lead, 21-20. Feldman, who went over 1,000 points for his career a week earlier, got the crowd going with another trey on the next possession. “We’re a streaky three-point shooting team,” Dubin said. “We can be red-hot or totally cold. There’s not much in between.”
Bethpage went ice cold in the third quarter after scoring six of the last eight points of the first half to tie it at 26. The Golden Eagles didn’t sink a shot from the field in the third and managed just four points — two free throws from both Tarnell and O’Brien — as the Bulldogs edged ahead by seven on Feldman’s buzzer-beater from midcourt.
Hewlett put the game out of reach by opening the fourth with a 15-3 run keyed by Pasquale and junior Messiah Ajayi-Clark.
Hewlett rallies into semifinals
Trailing No. 3 West Hempstead by sevenpoints entering the second half of Tuesday’s quarterfinal matchup, Hewlett rallied for a thrilling 71-69 victory to punch its ticket to next Monday’s semifinals at SUNY-Old Westbury. Feldman poured in 34 points and pulled down 15 rebounds. The Bulldogs will face No. 2 South Side or No. 7 Floral Park.