Lawrence pulls away from VSN

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Considering how the Nassau Conference IV boys’ basketball standings took shape early, and with two games remaining against each of the two frontrunners, Lawrence’s margin for error was already low as the calendar flipped to 2019.

That’s what made the Golden Tornadoes’ 67-49 victory over visiting Valley Stream North on Jan. 3 a “pretty big deal,” head coach Lou Robinson said. Senior point guard Keaton Goldsby proved unstoppable, pouring in a game-high 36 points, while senior center Norell Folawiyo stood tall in the paint with 20 rebounds, nine points and three blocks as Lawrence (6-4 overall) evened its conference record at 2-2. Junior Carlton Parris’ 28 points paced the Spartans (4-6), who slipped to 1-4 in A-IV.

“It was an important one for both teams and we came out and played by far our best game of the season,” Robinson said. “If we’re making layups and getting to the line and hitting free throws, we can be compete with just about anyone. We didn’t have a good night from the line, but luckily neither did they.”

Lawrence squandered 11 of its 19 free throws, while North shot 7-for-14. “We have to be a lot better on both ends of the floor and play with a purpose,” Spartans head coach Dan Achatz said.

Most of North’s shortcomings were self-inflicted, particularly in the fourth quarter after trimming an 11-point deficit to 47-42 with six minutes remaining. The visitors often hurried a long-distance attempt with plenty of time on the shot clock and nobody under the boards, making offensive rebounds few and far between. Parris (five) and senior Chris Manzi (11 points) did combine for eight three-pointers, however, the Spartans were out-rebounded and lost the turnover battle.

“We played a tough game against Wantagh and I thought it would give us momentum,” said Achatz, referring to the Spartans’ 68-61 conference victory at Wantagh just five days earlier. “But we followed with a loss to Floral Park and now Lawrence.”

The Golden Tornadoes, who were also coming off a setback to Floral Park, trailed North 13-12 after the first quarter but rode the efforts of Goldsby to a 27-23 halftime lead.

Goldsby was dynamic in transition as well as in the half-court offense, slashing his way to the rim throughout. He had 10 points in the second quarter and 18 in each half to finish one point shy of his career high set in a non-league win over Great Neck North on Dec. 11. “Keaton has a scorer’s mentality and the key for him is shot selection,” Robinson said. “I want him to get to the basket, but at the same time not force anything.”

Lawrence had a 13-point run to stretch its lead to 60-42 with 2:53 left. Sophomore Mikell Henry had four of his 12 points during the spurt, junior Nathaniel Manning sank a trey and senior Joey D’Vir added a put-back off a hard-fought rebound.

North hosts the rematch on Feb. 2 at noon. “We’ll continue to work hard to get better because there is still a shot for the playoffs,” Achatz said.