When the 2017-2018 boys’ basketball season got underway, most expected Sewanhaka and Hewlett to be among the teams vying for the Nassau Conference A-II title. Last Saturday afternoon’s matchup, the first of two meetings between the teams, confirmed just that.
Paced by a balanced scoring attack and a dominant performance on the backboards, host Sewanhaka improved to 6-0 in league play with a 66-57 victory over previously undefeated Hewlett. Seniors Giovany Brice and Jayden Boyd each scored 13 points for the Indians. The Bulldogs got a game-high 20 points from senior guard Luca Preziosi.
When the teams took the floor for the final quarter, Sewanhaka held a narrow 37-32 lead, but the Indians opened the quarter on an 8-0 run capped off by a sequence of spectacular plays by Jazier Whitely. The senior forward came up with huge rejection on the defensive end, and then sprinted down the court, spotted up, and buried a three to bring the raucous crowd to its feet and give Sewanhaka a commanding 45-32 lead.
“As the game winds down, open looks like that usually present themselves,” Sewanhaka head coach Jay Allen said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well from the outside, but we did hit one or two big ones. We need to be a team that can score inside and from the perimeter. Our strength is our inside game, and we don’t want to rely on the three, but we do have guys who can shoot from the outside.”
Neither team had any success shooting the ball in the opening half, but Sewanhaka was relentless on the boards on the offensive end and was converting on second and third opportunities. The Indians ran out to a 29-16 lead late in the first half and appeared to have control of the game.
But, back came the Bulldogs. Preziosi scored eight points during a 12-0 run that carried over into the third quarter and closed the gap to one point at 29-28. Sewanhaka’s guards, mainly Kamaal Chin and Boyd, did an outstanding job of forcing Preziosi off his game and keeping him from getting into offensive rhythm.
Hewlett head coach Bill Dubin thought Sewanhaka’s prowess on the glass was a difference maker. “That’s one of their strengths and one of our weaknesses,” Dubin said. “Unfortunately, it was difficult to simulate it in practice. They had a lot of second-chance opportunities and put backs. And, they shot free throws a lot better than they normally do. It’s ok. We’ve been in this position before. Our past success will carry over.”
When Sewanhaka took its biggest lead at 51-35, Hewlett began putting the Indians on the line. The Bulldogs chipped away and cut the lead to six points with less than a minute to play, but Sewanhaka, which went 16-for-23 from the line in the fourth quarter, scored its last 11 points from the free-throw line.