Michal Julka, T.J. Danns help Hicksville surprise Baldwin
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Cold gym. Hot shooters.
That was the story line Friday night at Hicksville, where the host Comets were shooting stars, nailing 12 of 26 from downtown to surprise Baldwin, 65-55, in a matchup of unbeaten teams in Nassau AA-II.
It was so cold that even the Hicksville assistant coaches were joking about it. Considering that it was the first time in 12 years that the Comets (4-1, 3-0) had beaten perennial Nassau powerhouse Baldwin (2-2, 2-1), according to Hicksville coach Phil Essigman, expect the thermostat to stay set on low for future games.
The Comets supplied their own heat as senior Michal Julka sank a career-high six three-pointers and scored 20 points. "That's what we do. This group can shoot," Essigman said, smiling before adding, "But we don't usually shoot like this."
Who does? Hicksville fell behind 11-5 before embarking on a 22-4 run that spanned the first and second quarters. T.J. Danns, a powerful 6-5 inside presence, banged away for two baskets to start the surge. Ryan Mannix's three gave the Comets a 12-11 lead they never relinquished. Mannix hit another trey from the corner and Nick Petrucelli matched that just before the buzzer for a 20-13 lead after one.
Petrucelli popped another three early in the second quarter from the top of the key, Justin Mize and Julka sank three- balls from opposite corner pockets, and the Comets had a 29-15 lead with 4:26 left. They led 34-22 at halftime, having shot 8-for-13 from beyond the arc.
"Everybody's confidence went up. A lot of us can hit threes," said Julka, who also handled the ball well against Baldwin's vaunted defensive pressure.
The Bruins forced several turnovers and made a run in the third quarter, cutting the score to 40-35 with 3:44 left. But Julka hit a big three from the corner and Danns, who scored 17 points, beat the buzzer with his only three to make it 46-35 entering the fourth.
Danns' shot seemed to deflate the Bruins. Two more threes by Julka in the final period made sure Baldwin, which got 21 points from Jordan Williams and 15 from Eric Mack, didn't get re-pumped.
"I saw the clock was winding down, so I just took the shot," Danns said.
It was a three, so of course it went in. The Comets were chillin'.