Brentwood has a solution for the mathematical puzzle of how to keep four high-scoring players happy with only one basketball. The Indians keep the rock moving as if it were a hot coal. The results have burned opponents all season, and Saturday was no exception.
"We're a run-and-gun team, and that's how we make it happen,'' Tavon Ginyard said after his 16-point, 10-assist performance helped lead Brentwood past Baldwin, 72-51, in the Long Island Class AA championship game before a capacity crowd of more than 3,500 at Farmingdale State. "We move the ball and we play great defense.''
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There were plenty of movers and shakers for Brentwood (23-1), which won its second consecutive Long Island championship to earn its second straight trip to Glens Falls. The Indians will face the Aquinas-Jamestown winner at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in a state Class AA semifinal.
Mike Almonacy had 20 points and six assists. Ali Mableton scored 12 of his 16 points in the first half, when Brentwood set a winning tone. Jamel Allen scored 11 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked four shots.
"We trust each other and that's why we keep the ball moving,'' Almonacy said. "We're hungry. We really wanted this game. We really wanted to get back to states. This time we want to win it.''
Allen blocked three shots in the first quarter and the message was clear: The Bruins (19-2) were not getting to the rim. Although Daraja Rodwell added to his Long Island-best total of 75 three-pointers with five more and scored 19 points, the Bruins struggled against the Indians' rock-solid defense.
"Jamel set the tone early with those blocks,'' Almonacy said.
Once Brentwood gained control, it was only a matter of time before Showtime surfaced. Ginyard tried to get the party started a little early with an errant, off-the-backboard pass to a trailing Allen in the third quarter, when it was only an 11-point game.
"Sometimes the ball moves when I don't want it to,'' coach Anthony Jimenez said with a wry grin after his 200th victory. "Then it was almost like they corrected themselves. There's a time for Showtime and a time for discipline.''
Showtime came two minutes into the fourth quarter. Ginyard used a dazzling behind-the-back dribble to escape a defender and whipped a behind-the-back, no-look pass to Almonacy for a floater in the lane that made it 53-37.
"Shane [Gatling] cut me off, so I went behind-the-back with the dribble,'' Ginyard said. "Then I saw Mike out of the corner of my eye and made a behind-the-back pass. It was just a reaction, but I knew everyone was waiting for something special.''
The Indians got the lead to 68-44 on Almonacy's three-pointer with 2:32 left. Showtime was now garbage time, and Jimenez pulled all of his starters.
"Given the talent we have, it's surprising sometimes how unselfish we are,'' Jimenez said.
Of his milestone victory, he said: "Honestly, I never thought it would happen this year. We played a lot of good teams. But before the game, Mike told me, 'Don't worry.' ''
Be happy, Coach. Be happy, Brentwood.