Donnell Louissaint has spent most of his high school basketball career watching from the bench.
In his first game as Deer Park’s sixth man, the 6-4 senior helped spark a 58-55 non-league win at Uniondale.
Louissaint had 14 points, 13 rebounds, two blocks and three steals, including the game-sealing strip with two seconds remaining.
“I’ve always been the player that sits on the end of the bench,” said Loussaint, a Brentwood transfer, “and I feel like when opportunities come to us, we must embrace them. We must take advantage. I just dug deep and did what I had to do.”
Darien Jenkins scored a game-high 20 points, including 16 after halftime. But when the junior guard struggled, Loussaint stepped up.
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“He’s basically the big reason why we won this game,” Jenkins said.
With his team trailing 21-11 three minutes into the second quarter, Loussaint weathered the storm. He scored nine of the Falcons’ next 11 points to keep the halftime deficit manageable at 32-22.
“He was all over the floor with energy,” coach John McCaffrey said.
After halftime, Jenkins sank a pair of running jumpers, the second of which cut Uniondale’s lead to 37-29. He closed the third quarter with a buzzer-beating three-pointer, cutting the gap to 44-40 and sparking a 12-0 run. In that spurt, he buried another three-pointer to take a 45-44 lead, the first Deer Park advantage since 2-0. The Falcons (1-0) led the rest of the way.
“Once I see one go in,” Jenkins said, “it’s like a light flicks on in my head and I just keep on going.”
Brett Talbert had nine points and four assists and Josh Pismeny had five points and six rebounds. The sophomores form a young but relatively experienced backcourt with Jenkins, as McCaffrey committed to starting the trio together last year.
Still, the hope for Deer Park is that the trio — and the entire team — continue to jell through a challenging non-league slate that includes games against Harborfields, Baldwin and Boys and Girls.
“We booked a brutal non-league schedule,” McCaffrey said.
The Falcons emerged victorious from the first test, despite Kyle Harding’s 16 points and a Uniondale team that McCaffrey said he would not be surprised to see score in the 70s regularly.
“The fact that we got to experience a hard-fought game against a really good team in their gym,’ he said, “I think it will help us.”