These long-range shooters can dial it up from anywhere

St. John the Baptist Tavon Ginyard goes up

St. John the Baptist Tavon Ginyard goes up for the three-pointer during a game against Holy Trinity. (Jan. 11, 2013) (Credit: Alan J Schaefer)

Three of a kind. They jack 'em up from anywhere; they're kings in the clutch; they're aces of their clubs.

Three is key, as skilled long-range shooters have an impact on nearly every game. Here is a look at a trio that is among Long Island's best. It's a journey that will take us . . . downtown.

TAVON GINYARD

St. John the Baptist

The young gun of the group, and the smallest, too, Ginyard is a dynamic 5-8, 15-year-old sophomore who is carrying on a family tradition at St. John the Baptist. His older brother Khaleev Ginyard (Class of '09) was one of Long Island's premier three-point shooters and now starts as a junior at Dominican College.

"Watching him play, shooting threes and making game-winning shots, inspired me," Tavon said. "I modeled my game after him. I feel like I'm living through him on this same court."

Ginyard leads the tough CHSAA with 35 three-pointers. He averages 17.2 points and nearly five assists per game. "He's a special guard to be doing what he's doing at his age," SJB coach Andre Edwards said. "There's a lot of pressure. He's his own toughest critic but he's our point guard and our leading scorer. We ask him to mix it up."

The Cougars have another long-range specialist, Vinny Abbondola (28 treys), who has missed the last couple of games with a broken finger. When he returns, Edwards said, "They can be the best 1-2 punch on Long Island."

In the meantime, Ginyard flourishes. He nailed seven three-pointers and scored 33 points in last Tuesday night's victory over St. Dominic and netted 25 points in a tough loss to Holy Trinity on Friday night. "The three is definitely a weapon and when I make them, it lifts the crowd and fires up the team," Ginyard said. "When I'm hot, I'll take it and when I'm off, I'll still take it if it's a good shot."

Ginyard said he doesn't shoot "that much" in practice or the offseason, but still has the mind-set of most good shooters. "No fear," Edwards said.

RYAN HICKEY

Smithtown West

A 5-10 senior who will play next year at Dowling, Hickey is quick with the ball and quick to launch three-pointers if he sees an opening -- sometimes from NBA range. "If I have my feet set and my body square, I can hit from anywhere," Hickey said.

He is No. 3 is Suffolk in scoring (21.4) and three-pointers (27) and had a career-high 41 points, with five treys, in an upset of Brentwood during a December tournament. While he often handles the point for the Bulls, his three-pointers come from moving without the ball and coming off screens.

"What's really amazing about Ryan is his energy level," Smithtown West coach Mike Agostino said. "We'll have a two-hour practice and he'll go 100 percent. Boundless energy. He doesn't get tired. He's like a mutant."

Hickey needs to summon that energy often, as he draws opponents' top defensive player and frequently gets double-teamed. It takes a lot more work to get free for a three. "That's why I've been hitting the weights," Hickey said. "I know I'll need that for the next level."

He has evolved from a pure shooter as a young varsity player to an all-around guard. "My goal every year was to add something to my game to become a more complete player," Hickey said. "One year it was the pullup jumper. Then it was the Euro-step ."

But through it all, Hickey is a relentless and confident shooter, who often will go to a training facility after practice and duplicate his summer workout regimen that includes 800 shots. "He has no fear of being a hero or a villain," Agostino said.

GARRETT JOHNSON

Jericho

As a seventh grader, Johnson recalled, "I couldn't even reach the basket," when he tried taking long outside shots. That is no longer an issue. His shot is deadly accurate and at 6-1, beefed up by constant work in the weight room, Johnson has the strength to fight through double- and triple-teams and has become one of the most feared scorers on Long Island.

"In my 20 years of coaching, he's the most complete player I've ever had," Jericho coach Wally Bachman said. "He can kill you inside, outside or mid-range and break you down off the dribble. And he's always moving without the ball to get open."

Johnson, who will play basketball at Division III Haverford and major in economics, ranks second in Nassau in scoring at 23.4 points per game, and is third in three-pointers with 32. He's had games this season of 37 and 36 points, the latter included a career-high eight from downtown.

"It's all about getting stronger," Johnson said. "The extra strength in my legs lets me fight through screens and has increased my shooting range." Which is considerable.

That strength, coupled with good size for a guard, allows Johnson to post up smaller defenders, reducing his three-point opportunities but improving his overall scoring. "He's a fierce competitor," Bachman said. "He gets doubled and tripled and pushed around, but he still gets his shots."

Johnson credits his family for that. His offseason routine consists of taking 500 shots a day at a nearby gym, with his father, Larry, and 20-year-old sister, Paige, alternating the roles of feeder and rebounder. "Some people say I'm a streak shooter," Johnson said.

His coach believes he's much more than that.

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