On Friday night, Prince was king of the court
Prince-Charles Hickson scored 22 points to lead hot-shooting Copiague, the No. 9 seed, to an 80-62 victory over host Commack, the No. 8 seed, in a Suffolk AA quarterfinal.
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"He's played like royalty all season," Copiague coach Steve Rebholz said of his agile and mobile 6-5 junior forward, going along with the theme of the evening.
Indeed, Hickson gave the home team and its white-shirted, vocal student section the royal treatment with nine fourth-quarter points as the Eagles (13-6) of League III withstood a spirited rally by the Cougars (12-7) from League I.
Copiague led by as many as 21 points in the third quarter, but Commack, behind Matt Glubiak, who scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half, and Brian Lewis (17 points) cut the deficit to 69-60 with 3:18 left.
Then Hickson went behind the back with his dribble, got to the baseline and converted a layup to stop the Cougars' climb. Copiague closed the game with a 7-0 run to advance to Tuesday's semifinal against No. 1 Brentwood.
"A guy tried to cut me off, so I just reacted," Hickson said of the behind-the-back maneuver. "We talked about closing out games. We know that's important because we didn't close out a couple early in the season."
Hickson showed improvisational skills all night, passing, dribbling or driving out of the high post. In fact, Copiague's offense was poetry in motion with five players scoring in double figures and the team shooting an astonishing 66.7 percent from the field (30-for-45). Sophomore Andre Morgan added 18 points and junior Quandell Butler 16. Sophomore Joe Branch scored 11 off the bench and junior Kevin Roberts added 10. Note that all five will be back next year.
"It's not about one player. We find each other," said Hickson, who made the best find of the night from the foul line when he fed Roberts for a layup on a backdoor cut. "That's a play we like. I catch it high and the opposite wing cuts to the basket. We are an unselfish team."
Hickson also worked well with Morgan, a 6-4 low-post presence who blocked consecutive shots on one Commack possession and had the game's only dunk. "Andre is Prince's counterpoint," Rebholz said. "What he does in the low post is a perfect complement to what Prince does in the high post."
They were a princely pair.