Tidell Pierre's 15 points, 12 rebounds lead Hempstead basketball
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The shots weren't falling like they usually do for Tidell Pierre. But the free throws certainly were.
Coming off a junior season in which he averaged 19.9 points and scored 46 in one game, Pierre was held to just two field goals Friday. But knowing his team needed him, he remained aggressive, attacked the basket and got to the line, where he scored 11 of his 15 points.
He sank two free throws with 17.8 seconds left to provide the final margin as Hempstead held on for a 49-46 win over Roslyn in the Fritz Mueller-Arnie Sims Invitational Basketball Tournament at Manhasset.
"If I'm not making shots, I just keep pushing," said Pierre, who also grabbed 12 rebounds. "Post-up, try to get easy buckets. I'm going to keep fighting to get to the basket and keep my team in the game."
Tywan Watson, who finished with six points and seven assists, hit two free throws with 1:12 remaining to give Hempstead (1-1) a 47-45 lead. Watson was slated to be the starting shooting guard this season, but was shifted to the point -- a responsibility for which he says he's ready.
"My role is to keep the team focused," he said, "and make sure we don't give up on each other."
Mark Gjonlekaj scored 21 points, including nine straight during a run that carried into the fourth as Roslyn (1-1) opened its biggest lead of the game at 40-34. He also had the crowd-pleasing play of the game, throwing down a one-handed slam off a give and go with Andrew Slutsky in the second. Eric Kramer added 14 points.
Khalik Watts (11 points) hit a three-pointer with five minutes remaining to pull Hempstead within one. Arnold Coward, who finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds, then gave the Tigers a 43-42 lead with a layup. On the ensuing possession, he cut down the middle and got to the basket for an easy finger roll to make it 45-43 with two minutes left en route to Hempstead's first win of the season.
"We worked hard to get this win," Pierre said. "I look forward to many more this season."