It’s said that you must learn to walk before you can run. Well, no team in Nassau County understands this better than the Lynbrook boys’ basketball team. The Owls struggled to find ways to win close games early in the 2012-2013 season, but they’ve been a team to be reckoned with of late, after figuring out how to dig deep to grind out victories.
Lynbrook, which lost three consecutive non-league contests by three points or fewer in December, had one of its biggest wins in recent years when it outlasted visiting Floral Park, 85-72, in overtime. Junior guard Michael McVeigh scored a game-high 27 points, including seven in overtime, and senior Matt Murphy scored 20 of his 27 points in the second half and overtime.
The Owls, who ended up on the short end of a double overtime loss to Floral Park a year ago, appeared to have this one locked up in regulation, but Jordan Butler nailed a three-pointer to tie the score at 66 with just three seconds to play in regulation. Lynbrook outscored the Knight 19-6 in overtime. Brennan Gordon had a career-high 13 points.
Lynbrook is 6-9 overall, 4-4 in conference play. Head coach Chris Rube feels that the early season losses helped the Owls grow as a team. “When we were struggling early on, I told them that it was just a matter of figuring out how to close out games,” Rube said. “It’s both physical and mental. Losing those games served us well. We’ve been competitive all year long, but it took a little time to learn how to make the plays that it takes to win.”
While McVeigh (16.3 points per game), Murphy (16.1) and senior John Boni (12.6) have provided much of Lynbrook’s offense, Gordon has been just as valuable to the Owls. He gives up a lot of size, but his work ethic has enabled him to persevere.
Rube appreciates the effort he gets from Gordon. “Brennan gives everything he has at all times,” Rube said. “He has improved considerably. He does the little things like boxing out, rebounding, and finding open teammates. He’s really been phenomenal.” Rube, so impressed with Gordon, named him one of the team’s captains.
The Owls have battled the injury bug all season long. McVeigh, Connor Dorney, Zach Weiss, and Boni, who scored a career-high 20 points in a 51-47 win over North Shore, have been forced to miss time due to injuries.
Rube thinks the Owls can be a dangerous team in the playoffs, which begin next week. “Having talented guards is the key in the playoffs, and that’s where our strength is,” Rube said. “We can shoot the ball extremely well from the perimeter. You want to peak at the right time, and play your best at this time of year. We’ll let it fly and see what happens.”
Lynbrook closes the regular season at home against Floral Park this Friday at 6:30 p.m.