Josh Hyon made sure he was ready. He didn't give himself another alternative.
"In our last game, actually, against East Rockaway [a semifinal on Feb. 15], I told myself if I play like that again, we're not going to beat Malverne," said the Wheatley junior. "And even for the past month or so, I've just been working hard, preparing and thinking about this day."
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So by the time Friday's game started, Hyon was ripe for success. He scored a game-high 23 points, including 19 in the first half, as Wheatley defeated Malverne, 69-51, and captured its second straight Nassau Class B championship at LIU Post.
Wheatley (12-7) will play Southampton at 7:30 p.m. on March 4 at Farmingdale State for the Long Island Class B championship. Malverne finished 10-8.
There were eight lead changes in the first half, but Hyon put the Wildcats up for good with a long three-pointer from the right wing late in the second quarter.
"I used the pick better today and felt good from the start," Hyon said. "But to be honest, I didn't think we would win like this, by this much, today."
Andrew Tripi was another reason why Wheatley was able to pull away by the large margin. With Hyon bolted to the bench early in the third quarter because of foul trouble, Tripi helped turn a five-point lead at halftime into a 13-point lead at the end of the third quarter. Tripi scored nine points in the third quarter and totaled 16 in the game.
"I had more opportunities and I knew I had to make the most of them to help us out," Tripi said. "Our intensity on defense really helped a lot, too."
The Wildcats utilized a 2-3 zone throughout the game to frustrate a Malverne team that relies on points in transition. Kevin Martins was another key contributor for Wheatley with 17 points and Sam Fieldman added 11 points.
Aaron Jackson led Malverne with 14 points off the bench. Malverne had defeated Wheatley both times the two teams met during the regular season.
"This game we knew that our second half had to be better than our first," Tripi said. "And that's what was different this time."
Wheatley lost in the Long Island championship game last season by one point to Babylon, but Hyon believes this year could be different.
"That was terrible to lose that way," Hyon said. "We're bigger this season and I think we're capable of winning it this time. We'll be more than ready."