Central Islip ready to take off with McKenzie brothers
There are plenty of classy teams in Class AA, led by Central Islip, Deer Park and Bay Shore, expected to scrap for the county title, won last year by Floyd, another contender. In Class A, the script has a familiar look, with Amityville, coached by Jack Agostino, and defending state champion Harborfields, coached by Chris Agostino, primed for a third straight sibling showdown in the county playoffs.
Class AA Central Islip, which lost to Floyd in the county final, is on every team's radar this season. Led by Tim McKenzie, a versatile 6-4 senior forward who can score, rebound and defend, the Musketeers are favored to repeat as League II champ. McKenzie's brother, sophomore point guard David McKenzie, runs the show and Ishiah Booker is an effective scorer.
Bay Shore is considered the prime challenger, with slick point guard Bryson Lassiter fully recovered from a knee injury, and strong inside player Jason Wright. But don't overlook Northport. The Tigers surprised Bay Shore earlier this week behind forward Luke Petrasek's double-double (18 points, 11 rebounds) and are off to a 6-0 start. Petrasek is averaging 19.5 with three double-doubles and Matt Smith provides perimeter scoring.
In deep League I, Brentwood features one of the best big men in the county, 6-8 Femi Olujobi, who already has a pair of double-double games and is a feared shot-blocker. Defending champ Floyd won its first five games behind its trio of guards, Devin Burney, Devonte Dixon and Vantrell Nash. Longwood is led by the inside-outside tandem of guard Latrell Washington and post man Stephon Odle. Commack is a tough out because of Nick Arnold, a 6-5 forward who is averaging 24 points.
In League III, Smithtown West will ride the expert shooting of Ryan Hickey, who scored 41 points in a surprising win over Brentwood. Bill Behrens is another double-digit scorer. North Babylon, led by Cortland Speight and Isaiah Moore, showed it belongs in the league-title conversation by knocking off Smithtown West.
In League IV, Deer Park returns three starters, led by long-range shooter Keith Williams, who recently scored his 1,000th point. Center Rome Jenkins scored 27 in a loss to Long Island Lutheran. Point guard Aaren Edmead is a quick floor general. Perennial power Half Hollow Hills West will contend, led by junior Terry Harris, youngest brother of Tobias and Tyler, who scored a career-high 26 points against Bellport. Jamir Blackman, brother of last year's All-Long Island choice Emile, scored 31 against Hauppauge.
Class A Amityville, of League VI, proved it is one of the best teams on Long Island by rallying from an eight-point deficit to defeat Nassau AA power Farmingdale, 65-61, on Thursday night. The Warriors have a balanced attack led by Kavione Green, Mike Smith and Andy Laurent. Mount Sinai will contend, led by 6-7 Mike Guzzardi, an elite big man with a scorer's touch. He already has two 30-point games. East Hampton, with Thomas King, Glenn, with Darryl Daniels, and Bayport-Blue Point, with Connor Panzer, are in the playoff picture.
In League V, defending state Class A champion Harborfields will be strong again, led by John Patron, who averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds last season. Chris McCullough adds outside scoring and 6-9 Chris Brady is a force around the basket. Islip gets a boost by the return of big man Tighe Oberg, who spent last season at Lincoln (Brooklyn).
Class B Shaundell Fishburne, a slasher with range and one of the most dynamic players in Suffolk, is averaging 17 points for Southampton, unbeaten in its first three games and the favorite in League VII. Babylon is a contender with big men Fernando Vazquez and Ray Wardell. All-Long Island football star Jake Carlock also is a presence. Perennial challenger Center Moriches is athletic, led by Akeyse Brown (17.5 ppg through the first four games) and Tyrell Thomas. Wyandanch will make noise with Austin Christie and Chris Kelly.
Classes C, D Mercy looks like the C team to beat, led by shooter Asaiah Wilson (17 ppg) and big man Nykel Reese (19 ppg plus two double-doubles). Other C challengers include Stony Brook, with veteran point guard Marco Masakayan and gunner Tyler Abrahamsen, who canned six three-pointers to beat Port Jefferson. Perennial contender Greenport figures to be there again with guard Gavin Dibble (20 ppg through the first five).
In Class D, Smithtown Christian hopes for a playoff spot behind Caelan McCabe, one of the county's top returning scorers who already has three 20-plus games. Bridgehampton features freshman scorers Tyleke Furman and Josh Lamison.