Back at the scene where Lynbrook’s breakthrough 2016-17 campaign ended in the Nassau Class A boys’ basketball quarterfinals, marking its fourth straight defeat on Valley Stream North’s court, the Owls continued to prove last season was no fluke with a 67-62 victory over the Spartans on Jan. 10.
Junior John Donaldson had 23 points and eight rebounds, and junior Rylan Blondo added 19 points and six boards as Lynbrook improved to 8-3 overall and upped its Conference A-III mark to 3-1. The Spartans (4-6, 2-2) got a career-high 35 points from senior Taliq Abdul-Rahim but couldn’t overcome a 12-point deficit late in the fourth quarter.
“This is one of the toughest gyms in the county for a visiting team,” Lynbrook head coach Jamie Adams said. “On the way over here, we talked about exercising the demon or slaying the dragon…whatever you want to call it. We need to do a better job of managing the ball, but to get a road win against these guys is huge.”
North led 19-18 early in the second quarter but trailed most of the way. Its largest deficit was 63-51 with three minutes remaining after Lynbrook junior Brandon Pekale (eight points) drained a try from the top of the key.
“I think their guys showed a little bit more grit on defense and wanted it more,” VSN head coach Dan Achatz said. “Right now we’re not doing the little things it takes to win. We’re not playing consistent. We did a good job getting within three with a minute left, but then we had some costly turnovers and couldn’t get a rebound.”
Abdul-Rahim was the most electrifying player on the court and carried the Spartans throughout while boosting his average to 18.4 points per game, albeit the hosts’ late-game push featured baskets by junior Tristan Ferreira and seniors Kristoff Falconer and Shamari Griffith.
North scored nine straight before Blondo, Donaldson and senior Steven Hendrickson each went 1-for-2 from the line over the final 20 seconds to preserve Lynbrook’s second consecutive win since suffering a 22-point loss to conference frontrunner Floral Park.
“We learned something against Floral Park,” Adams said. “There are times during a season you’re going to get punched and need to respond. We wear the positive sign on our hands…everybody gets one before each game. We’ve shown it in spurts. Tonight we responded to every run they made.”
Donaldson and Blondo were the biggest factors in Lynbrook’s ability to stop North’s momentum. Of Donaldson’s five successful shots from behind the arc, four came after a basket by the home team and one gave the Owls a 34-31 lead early in the third quarter and sparked a nine-point run. Blondo had the other six.
Abdul-Rahim had 18 points in the first half and 17 in the second. However, sophomore CJ Parris (10 points) was the only other double-digit scorer for North, which has yet to string together back-to-back wins. “Inconsistent scoring is our main problem,” Achatz said.
The teams meet again at Lynbrook on Feb. 2 at 4:30 p.m.