Donnell Louissaint’s eyes must have been as big as basketballs when the 6-4 Deer Park forward lined up for the opening tip and noticed that no Bellport starter was taller than 6-1.
“I took advantage of what the defense gave me,” Louissaint said. “Being a senior, I knew I had to be a leader in this type of game.”
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Louissaint performed a masterful paint job with 29 points and 20 rebounds (seven offensive) to lead Deer Park to a 74-58 victory over host Bellport Thursday night in Suffolk IV. The Falcons improved to 11-2 and clinched second place behind Half Hollow Hills West in the league. Bellport, also playoff bound, is 9-4.
“We want to go inside. We have to establish the paint,” Deer Park coach John McCaffrey said. “I thought we were awesome off the glass, especially Donnell.”
Louissaint set a tone for the entire night with a putback on the first possession and ended his 10-point first quarter with a three at the buzzer. “My game has developed inside and outside,” said Louissaint, who had his best game of the season and raised his scoring average to 13.4.
With Darien Jenkins (20 points, eight rebounds) repeatedly driving to the basket, the Falcons built a 14-point lead early in the third quarter. But the Clippers, led by formidable freshman forward Jarell White (16 points), rallied to within 53-48 and gave a full house on Senior Night plenty to cheer about.
Then Deer Park silenced the gym with an impressive fourth quarter. All five starters scored at least one basket in the final period and the Falcons blew it open with a 9-0 run that featured layups by Josh Pismeny, Jenkins, Louissaint and Jenkins again for a 67-50 advantage with 4:29 left.
Jenkins, Deer Park’s scoring leader at 16.9 points per game, scored four baskets in the decisive fourth quarter. “I think of him as a combo guard who can play the point or play off the ball,” McCaffrey said. “Tonight he controlled the tempo against their pressure and we were aggressive going to the basket. This was our biggest win of the season.”
McCaffrey is hoping his team will earn the No. 4 seed for the upcoming Suffolk County Class AA playoffs, conceding the top three seeds — in no particular order — to Brentwood, Half Hollow Hills West and Northport.
Louissaint has a message for those teams. “We had to make a statement tonight,” he said. “We’re here and we’re coming hard.”