Baldwin one win from Three-Peat

Burton earns 400th coaching victory


The common theme to beating two-time defending Nassau County boys’ basketball champion Baldwin this winter has been to force the Bruins to play from behind.

Port Washington did it twice and will attempt to do the unthinkable —knock off Baldwin three times in the same season — this Saturday when the top two seeds meet for the Class AAA title at Farmingdale State College at 5:45 p.m.

The second-seeded Bruins, who defeated the Vikings in last year’s Class AA final by a six-point margin, advanced with a 60-42 victory over No. 6 Hempstead Sunday night at Farmingdale State, thanks in large part to junior Chase Timberlake’s 18 points and freshman Peyton Howell’s 14.

“Port Washington has a great team and more size and experience than we do, but it’s hard to beat someone three times and we’ll be ready,” Baldwin head coach Darius Burton said. “We need to get off to a good start. That’s been a sticking point all season, although lately we’ve been having better first quarters. We’re a pretty young team but our defense keeps us in every game.”

Port Washington, which squeezed by No. 8 Westbury in the first round and took down No. 4 Syosset in Sunday’s earlier semifinal, defeated Baldwin 59-46 at home Jan. 17 and also 52-42 on the Bruins’ home floor Feb. 6.

“We like playing on the bigger court, it allows us to use our quickness and spread the offense,” Timberlake said. “I thought we played pretty well tonight. They made a little run in the third quarter, but aside from that I thought we were consistent.”

Baldwin (17-5) outscored the Tigers in every quarter on the way to giving Burton his 400th career coaching victory. The Bruins led 14-10 after the first quarter, 24-17 at halftime, and 37-28 after the third.

“It’s a great milestone that I’ll think about more when I’m retired,” said the 23rd-year head coach. “Right now I’m just excited about getting back to the county championship game.”

Hempstead held Baldwin off the scoreboard for the first 3:30, but once the Bruins shook off the nerves and rust, they never trailed again after a Howell trey and Timberlake layup put them ahead 5-4.

It was 22-10 early in the second quarter after senior Shane Mauldin came off the bench to score five straight points. The largest lead of the night came midway through the third after sophomore Gabe Phillips hit two baskets and set up one by senior Chauncey Saint Jean to make it 37-21.

Hempstead, which was led by senior Ziyair Jones’ 16 points but went just 11 of 23 from the line, closed the third with seven straight points to make it 37-28. But Baldwin's 6-foot-6 sophomore Dylan Cudjoe scored all six of his points in the fourth and helped control the boards with the 6-3 Phillips.

“Rebounding will be a key against Port,” Burton said.

The Bruins opened the playoffs Feb. 17 with a workmanlike 52-29 home win over No. 7 Uniondale. Timberlake, with 20 points, was their lone double-digit scorer in a game the defense dominated. Sophomore Ethan Sainsbury added 8 points and Saint Jean pulled down 8 rebounds.