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Lynbrook ends conference title drought

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For the first time in a decade, members of the Lynbrook boys’ basketball team can call themselves conference champions. But the Owls aren’t going to rest on their laurels as they head into the postseason.

Lynbrook claimed a share of the Conference A-IV title with a 72-58 win over Lawrence in the regular-season finale last Saturday to finish 10-2 in the league (17-2 overall.) It marked the program’s first conference championship since 2009 and its second since 1989.

The Owls, who won just two games during the 2015-16 season, split the regular-season championship with Valley Stream South (10-2, 15-2) and brought a sense of pride and excitement back to the community.

“Lynbrook basketball hasn’t been what it is in a long time,” head coach Jamie Adams said. “You walk into the building and there’s definitely a buzz. People are excited about what’s going on. That’s an awesome feeling.”

The Owls earned the second seed in the Nassau Class A playoffs and will face the either MacArthur or Mepham this Saturday. They did not face either team during the regular season, but many of the players and coaches planned to watch film and attend Wednesday’s outbracket game to get a scouting report on their next opponent.

“We’ll have Thursday and Friday to prep,” Adams said. “I have two great assistant coaches who will be breaking down stuff and we’ll meet Thursday before practice to go over what our opponent likes to do.”

Lynbrook was backed by a high-octane offense that averaged just under 70 points a game, including a season-high 86 against Hewlett on Dec. 7 and Floral Park on Jan. 11. That attack was led by the three-headed monster of seniors Rylan Blondo (24.1 ppg), James Montgomery (14.2) and John Donaldson (12.9.)

Blondo’s scoring average was seven points better than last season and good for second in Nassau, just behind Floral Park’s Jayson Delgado (24.7). The 5-foot-11 guard missed last year’s playoffs with a broken kneecap and his absence was noticeable as the Owls barely edged North Shore in the Class A outbracket game before falling to Floral Park in the first round.

“I think the injury to Rylan last year, while crushing for us as a team and him as an individual, it also was a tremendous learning experience,” Adams said. “He got to see the game from a different perspective, which gave him an understanding of why we do certain things. I’m not really surprised with what he’s given to us.”

The Owls are a senior-heavy team with nine set to graduate this spring, but Adams brushed off the idea that the team needs to win it all before the massive roster turnover.

“Guys like Rylan and John and Brandon [Pekale], you don’t replace players like that,” he said. “Everybody sees the accolades and the accomplishments that a guy like Rylan Blondo gets, but what our guys see is what he does outside the season. Now, you’re expected to put in that time and then carry on that tradition to what Lynbrook basketball has become.”