After defeating West Hempstead on Dec. 13, Malverne was looking to double down last Friday night on its home court. Backed by a stellar second half on both ends of the court, the Mules emerged with a 67-46 win, remaining atop Nassau Conference B2 boys’ basketball.
Three players recorded double-doubles for Malverne as seniors Slyvain Castin, Farvens Ulysse, and captain Joshua Croom all achieved the feat. Castin led the way in scoring with 14 points.
It was a strong opening quarter for the Mules as 12 of their 19 points came from beyond the arc as the offensive ball movement helped set the tone early on in the contest.
“We know the first shot is not always the best shot,” Castin said. “Moving the ball is important to us because it gets the team open and gets the defense confused.”
West Hempstead responded by outscoring Malverne 11-7 in the second quarter and trailed by as little as one point before two baskets to close out the half by Malverne put the Rams down five.
“We came out a little flat to start the game,” Rams first-year head coach Eric Rubin said. “We probably should’ve been down more, but we settled down and were able to climb back.”
The Mules were able to get back to their game plan offensively, but their defense also made a noticeable impact holding West Hempstead to 25 second-half points whereas Malverne scored 41 after intermission.
“It started with our defense, it’s gotta end with our defense,” Castin said. “We knew coming out there that we had to lock down and stay focused on the defensive end.”
Malverne’s reserves also made a difference in the game as junior Zavion Daniels and eighth-grader Malachi Hudson combined for 13 points while Daniels provided some strong defense.
“Both of them can really help us down the stretch,” Malverne associate head coach Walter Aksionoff said. “Zavion gave us a nice lift off the bench and Malachi has the ability to attack while also possessing a nice shot.”
Sophomore Evan Wilson led the Rams in scoring with 16 points off the bench and has been a solid sixth man for West Hempstead this winter. “Evan has been playing better and better all season,” Rubin said. “He’s a real hard worker and is becoming one of our better players.”
Despite the loss, West Hempstead still has just as many wins this season (five) than their last four seasons combined. The Rams are now looking ahead towards their two remaining conference matchups against Seaford and East Rockaway.
“Our goal is to make the playoffs,” Rubin said. “We’ve had some positives this season, but we still want to compete down the stretch.”
Malverne now sits 5-2 in the conference and holds an overall record of 9-7, but are still looking to improve as the final weeks of the season approach.
“We’re still taking it game by game,” Castin said. “We want to make the playoffs and win championships, but we’re making sure we’re perfecting the little things.”