West Hempstead set a few team goals prior to the 2013-2014 basketball season; one was to win the Conference A-IV title and secure a home playoff game. Mission accomplished.
The Rams traveled to Seaford and knocked off the Vikings 70-55 before an amped up Senior Night crowd last Friday. With the victory, West Hempstead clinched the league championship for the second consecutive season, and secured one of the top four seeds in the Nassau Class A playoffs. Senior Darren Davy had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Rams.
West Hempstead had a relatively easy time with Seaford when the teams met in early January, but playing in front of the Viking faithful is never an easy task. Seaford came out fired up and played an inspired brand of basketball. The Rams, who finished the regular season at 11-1 in league play, 15-2 overall, held just a slim 18-14 lead after one quarter.
The game turned in the second quarter, but the cast of characters who led the Rams on their run was different from the usual. Bryce Cohen knocked down three jumpers from long distance, and Bobby Smith added nine points and 12 rebounds as the Rams bench helped put the game away. West Hempstead held a 34-20 lead at the break, and was never challenged in the second half.
West Hempstead head coach Ed Cosgrove expected Seaford to put up a big fight. “They’re always tough, especially on their home court,” Cosgrove said. “It’s a great environment to play in. The crowd is always wild, and the game gets physical. We did a nice job of sticking with our game plan. After a while, we wore them down with our defense. It’s a good win for us.”
While the solid contributions from Cohen and Smith were a nice surprise, Davy picking up a double-double is about as predictable as the sunrise. Davy is the model of consistency, averaging 15.5 points and 12 rebounds per game.
Setting the tone on both ends of the floor were juniors Dimitri and Derick Joseph. The twins were double trouble for Seaford, as each registered five steals. Dimitri scored a team-high 16 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Derick added eight assists. Another sign of playoff readiness was the 22 points the Rams scored from the free-throw line.
The win was the fourth straight for West Hempstead after Roosevelt dealt the Rams their only league loss. The team rebounded with wins over Mineola, Locust Valley, and Cold Spring Harbor before finishing up with the convincing win at Seaford.
Cosgrove believes his team is playing the way it needs to if it wants to have a deep playoff run. “We have our swagger back on defense,” Cosgrove said. “We have our focus back on what we do well. If this team is going to go on a run, it’s going to be defense and scoring in transition that’s going to carry us.”
The Rams will host a first-round playoff game Thursday night, weather permitting. Their opponent was undetermined at press time.