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Another strong start for Malverne

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The Malverne boys’ basketball team is back in familiar territory.

The Mules’ 71-61 win at Cold Spring Harbor on Dec. 19 pushed their record to 4-1 for the third straight season and are again a contender for the Conference BC crown despite losing several impact players from last season’s 18-win team to graduation. The victory was also the team’s second straight following a dismal 47-41 loss to St. Anthony’s five days earlier.

Junior Michael Warren had his best game of the season with 28 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds, while senior Jayden Seraphin continued his strong start with 20 points and 11 boards. Senior Duane Bernard added 10 points and sophomore Deandre Blagrove led the Mules with 13 rebounds.

The Seahawks dealt Malverne two of its three losses last season, including a 56-50 victory in the Nassau Class B title game at Farmingdale State College on Feb. 23. Cold Spring Harbor’s 66-65 win 18 days earlier snapped the Mules’ 12-game winning streak which followed that 4-1 start.

“It was a good win for us,” said associate coach Walter Aksionoff. “It’s always tough to play them.”

Malverne was coming off a dominant 80-48 win over Carle Place on Dec. 17 and the revamped roster is starting to show signs of gelling. The Mules trailed by 12 points entering the fourth quarter of the season opener against Manhasset and needed a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by junior guard James Ackies to complete the 64-61 comeback win before using a 26-10 third quarter to outlast Carey 73-65 on Dec. 10.

That was followed by the team’s worst performance of the young season, scoring just four points in each of the middle two quarters in the home loss to the Friars.

“They shut us down and we stunk up the court,” Aksionoff said. “We weren’t moving.”

Warren healthy again after injuring his ankle while playing for the football team and is averaging just under 19 points a game. Against Carey, he scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half and added nine assists to lead the Mules.

“When it’s crunch time, we love to get the ball in his hands,” Aksionoff said. “He has excellent court vision [and] he can break down the opposing player they put on him. But certainly, when we backscreen to him, that just makes it so much easier.”

Serpahin attended several basketball camps during the offseason and his effort is paying off with an 18.4 scoring average to go with his strong play on the glass. “He’s stronger, he can shoot [and] can really get over the rim,” Aksionoff said. “He’s a nice inside-outside player for us and a very coachable kid.”

Blagrove is consistently pulling down double-digit rebounds and was a “bear” on the boards against Cold Spring Harbor, according to Aksionoff. Newcomer Trey Robinson is using his 6-foot-5 frame to emerge as an effective shot blocker and rebounder and Bernard, a former West Hempstead guard, has three double-digit point games this season.