The Freeport boys’ basketball team went toe-to-toe with Uniondale on Tuesday evening and was on the verge of its second win of the season before the Knights seized the game in the final moments with some clutch plays.
The heartbreaking 50-46 home defeat to its league rival epitomized much of Freeport’s 1-10 season so far with a strong effort not rewarded on the scoreboard.
‘I’m proud of them as they keep battling even though the wins aren't there,” said Freeport head coach Larry Steimer moments after his team’s fifth straight loss which dropped the Red Devils to 1-5 in Conference AA-1 play. “We just have to get some of the bounces to go our way.”
It appeared during the fourth quarter that perhaps Tuesday would be the day Freeport would find the win column after clawing back from a six point deficit after three periods to grab a late 43-42 lead on a basket from junior guard Jaylen Jean-Louis.
After Uniondale answered with a three-pointer, Freeport answered the bell when junior center Elijah Darby found his long range game to sink a trey of his own with 1:05 left for a 46-45 Red Devil advantage.
“Elijah can shoot and he has some definite range outside,” Steimer said. “It was a good shot and I'm glad he knocked it down, but I just wish we could have finished it off.”
On the ensuing possession after the clutch Darby shot, Uniondale’s Dipo Karimu drained a three-pointer to put Freeport down two late. The Red Devils were then unable to convert on the other end of the floor with Uniondale icing the game with a goal-tending call on transition with 5.9 seconds remaining.
Freeport led 23-20 at halftime after closing the second quarter on a 9-3 run. Uniondale answered Freeport’s momentum early in the third quarter with a 12-2 run to close the period and lead 34-28 after the Red Devils were up 27-22. .
“Every time they threw a punch we were able to get back up,” Steimer said. “We just turned the ball over at the end and they made some great defensive plays.”
Darby led Freeport with 11 on four field goals. Jevon Saul and Jean-Louis both registered 10 points while Jadan Threat chipped in six.
“We have a lot of guys that score,” Steimer said, “We don’t have one main guy and everybody needs to step up and chip in.”
The game was closely contested much like the first meeting with Uniondale in which Freeport fell 44-39 in a Dec. 14 road game.
The Red Devils will look to rebound Friday evening with a 5 p.m. tipoff at Hicksville. The Red Devils will then have time off for midterms before returning to the court for a Saturday afternoon game against Massapequa on Jan. 28 at noon. Freeport’s next home game is scheduled for Jan. 3 at 5 p.m. against Hempstead.
“We just need to keep playing hard and get wins and hopefully get on a roll,” Steimer said.