The Malverne Mules hung tough with the high-octane Southampton offense until they lost their discipline, their composure, and ultimately, the Long Island championship.
Derek Reed overcame early foul trouble and scored 18 of his 22 points in the second half and Naevon Williams added 16 as the Mariners (20-4) won the Class B boys’ basketball title March 8 with a 63-49 win over the Mules at Hofstra University.
Chad Wesley led Malverne (15-8) with 16 points and senior Farvens Ulysse was limited to eight in his final game after collecting 21 in the Mules’ Nassau B final win over Carle Place a week earlier. Malverne is 0-4 in the Long Island title game since winning it for the fourth straight time in 2010.
Malverne trailed 37-35 entering the fourth quarter after Sylvain Castin drilled a buzzer-beating jumper to end the third and cut the deficit to one on Wesley’s layup with 4:10 left, but the Mules were already in a precarious position by being over the foul limit with Southampton reaching the double bonus a minute earlier.
“They’re an excellent team,” Mules associate coach Walter Aksionoff said. “We battled them, we battled them, but we cannot play as a team [if we commit] 10 fouls, 12 fouls and put them on the foul line.”
Alex Franklin’s basket with four minutes left made it 47-44 and Nikai Pierson’s two free throws on Southampton’s next possession, which resulted in Joshua Croom fouling out, pushed the lead back to five. Will Hartley’s score brought Malverne to within 49-46 with 3:10 left, but the Mules soon unraveled to eliminate any chance of a comeback.
Pierson’s putback with 2:46 left resulted in a technical foul on the Malverne bench for arguing with the officials. Franklin hit one of two free throws to make it 52-46 and the Mariners regained possession as a result.
Ulysse fouled out 13 seconds later and Franklin hit another free throw. Then, with just under two minutes left, Reed was flagrantly fouled while scoring on his drive and hit the two ensuing free throws to make it an 11-point game. Pierson’s basket on the Mariners’ ensuing possession and two more free throws by Reed in the waning moments capped the 12-0 run.
“Josh runs the offense and Farvens is one of our shooters and rebounders, so when they go down, our offense isn’t that deep,” Aksionoff said.
Reed, who is averaging just over 23 points a game, had four in the first quarter before sitting with just over a minute gone in the second after collecting his third foul. His absence helped Malverne go on a 10-3 run that turned a two-point deficit into a five point lead in the final minute of the first half.
“When we had him out of the game, I told them that’s when you attack,” Aksionoff said.
But the offense suddenly turned cold as Southampton went on an 11-0 run to start the third quarter for a 35-26 lead. The Mules finally scored with 2:30 left and finished the stanza on a 9-2 run.