Long Beach boys’ basketball coach Scott Martin doesn’t tend to keep his eyes pointed at the scoreboard. However, last Saturday afternoon, with the Marines enjoying an impressive run in the third quarter against visiting Westbury, he looked up to see their lead had swelled to 22.
“I’ve never paid too much attention to the scoreboard as an athlete or as a coach,” Martin said. “As a coach, I don’t want the scoreboard to change the way we’re playing. When I looked up and saw how much we were leading against a top program like Westbury, it was great. But at the same time I knew it wasn’t safe and that they’d make a run. They ended up making a couple of runs.”
Junior Jaden Barwicki paced four Long Beach scorers in double figures with 14 points, and the Marines held off the Green Dragons for a 69-57 win to improve to 7-3 overall and 1-2 in Conference AA-II. Senior Gerard Burns had 10 points and 13 rebounds, while juniors Aidan White and Jacob Cochran chipped in 10 points apiece. Westbury’s Jordan Redd netted a game-high 15.
“We’ve been playing well,” Martin said. “All 13 guys we had in uniform contributed against Westbury. We were able to get some easy baskets off their zone and we hit a bunch of threes.
“We just played Hempstead in a non-league and they play a similar style to Westbury,” he added. “That experience definitely helped us prepare.”
Barwicki, senior Lashawn Hankins and junior Alex Bauer all sank a pair of shots from behind the arc, and Long Beach also delivered from the foul line with 17 successful free throws. Hankins had seven points and Bauer and junior Tristan DeCicco added six apiece.
“We want to outlast opponents,” Martin said of going as deep on the bench as he ever has. “If they’re using 8 or 9 guys, we want to use 12.
“Some kids may feel like it, but just because someone is coming out of a game it isn’t a bad thing,” Martin added. “They have to understand they’re stronger as a whole.”
The coach said he’s hoping the Westbury game could serve as a coming-out party for Cochran, a first-year varsity forward who can make things happen in the half-court offense. “We don’t have many guys who can do what he can do in the half-court game,” Martin said.
Burns (11.9), Hankins (11.4) and Barwicki (11.1) were all averaging in double figures through 10 games. Burns and Hankins were both banged up with shoulder injuries in December and didn’t play much in Long Beach’s 53-31 loss at the buzzer at Plainview in the Dec. 21 conference opener.
The Marines opened the season with five straight wins out of the gate, including knocking off Clarke and Wantagh to capture Wantagh’s Tournament. They’ve also defeated Oceanside, Syosset and Hempstead, all of Conference AA-I. “It’s nice to have wins against three teams from the other AA conference,” Martin said.