Malverne topped in tourney opener


Port Washington’s boys’ basketball team was able to make use of an effective full-court press, while simultaneously exploiting the holes in Malverne’s en route to a 67-51 victory in the opening round of the Hank Williams Memorial Holiday Tournament at Malverne High School on Dec. 27.

“We like to press, and any time you press a good team is going to go back door,” Malverne Assistant Coach Walter Askinoff said. “Sean [Dooley] did a god job of that and we should be able to defend it.”

Dooley, Port Washington’s coach, had a bit of inside information as to what he was facing since he’s a Malverne graduate.

While the final margin may not appear as such, the game was very competitive.  Up until the final minutes it seemed that whoever would go on the latest run would be victorious.

The game started with an 8-0 Port Washington fury fueled by point guard Matt Siegal, who orchestrated a potent offense all night, and Ryan Kriftcher. The latter made plays on both sides of the court, ultimately compiling a game-high 17 points. Making use of that run the Vikings ended a dominant first quarter doubled up on Malverne, 22-11.

The Mules had no thoughts of laying down however as they roared back with a 10 point run of their own led primarily by Jarmel Richardson and Aaron Jackson, who had a team high 14 points in the tilt. Malverne was able to bring the halftime score to a less-menacing four-point deficit at 35-31.

The Mules biggest chance to grab a lead came midway through the third quarter when a bucket from James Wheeler (14 points) cut the Vikings’ lead to 42-40. With its back against the wall Port Washington responded by rattling off 10 unanswered points and never looked back, resulting in the 16-point victory.

“We shouldn’t have another team get 10 points straight without stopping and that’s what hurts, because it’s hard to battle back,” Askinoff said.

The battle on the boards was tough between the teams all night; Kevin Young of the Mules made his presence felt while contributing 12 points. On the opposite side of the floor Al Ashmawy fought hard under the rim and added nine points to the effort.  

A key for both teams was the play of their respective benches. Malverne’s Chris Vittucci started the second half and while he didn’t score any baskets proved to be the ultimate hustle player as well as an effective perimeter defender in the comeback attempt. Jordan Walker of the Vikings was the smallest player on the court, but his quickness was unrivaled as well as his ability to find the open man.

Askinoff will look to correct his young team’s mistakes and move on.

“They’re young, they’re going to work hard tomorrow back in the gym, we’re going to go against Upper Room,” he said of last Saturday’s consolation game. “We’ll be ready for them and see what we can do.”