Lawrence passes early test


Lawrence passed a big early test in Conference A-III boys’ basketball, beating Floral Park and North Shore back-to-back on the road last week.

The Golden Tornadoes (3-0 in conference play, 7-2 overall) had five players score in double figures in a come-from-behind 78-71 victory at Floral Park on Jan. 9, while four players hit double digits the following evening in a 70-50 win at North Shore.

“It was a little tough on us, but that’s a good thing,” Lawrence coach Joe Supple said. “We had to fight all 32 minutes at Floral Park, and North Shore did a nice job slowing the game down against us. The kids battled through it, and I think we showed some character.”

Senior Clifton Lyerly had 25 points, nine rebounds and eight assists as Lawrence rallied from four points down with three minutes remaining to pull out its closest win of the campaign. Junior Hamed Shamseldin poured in 14 points off the bench, with a dozen of those coming from behind the arc, senior Eddie Robinson added 13, senior Randy Wallace had 10 points and 15 rebounds, and junior Dwayne Daniel added 10 points.

“We’re playing unselfish basketball,” Supple said. “If a team tries to shut one of our big guys down, we’ve got three or four others capable of doing damage.”

A layup by Robinson, who earlier in the season surpassed the 1,000 career point plateau, with 1:50 remaining put the Golden Tornadoes ahead to stay. They went 8-for-8 from the foul line in crunch time, with Robinson, Lyerly and Daniel all contributing.

The Knights, who got 23 points from Richard Hawkins and 13 from Kevin Cluess, built a 17-10 advantage after the first quarter. Shamseldin provided a spark for Lawrence in the second quarter, nailing a trey on his first attempt to get the offense going. “Hamed’s been instant offense off the bench,” Supple noted. “We like having that dynamic. We were struggling a little before he got us going.”

A 26-point second quarter gave the Golden Tornadoes a 36-32 halftime lead, but Hawkins (six three-pointers) helped Floral Park close the gap in the third and inch ahead in the fourth. “They played a great game,” Supple said. “They ran some complicated offensive sets that caught our defense off-guard. They run a lot of screens and had a few guys get hot. Hawkins had one of those nights where everything he shot went in.”

The same could be said of Lyerly, who had six standard field goals, a trio of three-pointers and four free throws. “He’s been knocking on the door for a triple-double,” Supple said of Lyerly, who had 18 points against North Shore. “He’s been our glue. His versatility is such an advantage. Not many guys can guard him.”

Lawrence opened conference play with a 74-25 rout of Manhasset on Jan. 4. Robinson had 20 points and Daniel 16, but the biggest statistic came in the assist column as Supple’s team dished out 24 helpers. “It’s the most complete game we’ve played this season,” he said.

The Golden Tornadoes host Valley Stream South this Friday at 6:15 p.m.