The message has been sent — Nassau B/C, welcome to Academy Charter basketball. Usually, a new program would find some rough footing in their first few years in a conference. But not Academy Charter. They are the rough footing. Now, it’s up to the rest of the conference to catch up.
The second-year boys varsity basketball program continued to assert its will Tuesday night, notching a dominant 84-42 victory over host East Rockaway that moved the team to 5-0 in conference play and 6-1 overall. Jarrett Dingle led all scorers with 24 points, seven assists, and four rebounds and Dimitre Martin had 18 points and five rebounds. Four Academy Charter players finished in double figures. Justin Rodriguez had 14 points and Rayne Shim added 10 points and seven rebounds.
“I don’t think this is the best game we’ve played all season, but it’s one of the good ones,” Dingle said. “I think we can play better.”
And that may be a scary thing for their new conference foes. The Hempstead school played in Nassau B/D last season and are in their first year in B/C. Although the squad has gone above and beyond proving that they belong, a chip still remains on their shoulder.
“I think we’re underrated,” Dingle said. “Teams come into games just thinking they’re going to beat us and we just prove them wrong."
Martin agreed: “Every time we walk into the gym, teams just think they’re going to run over us. That’s not the case.”
Academy Charter came out strong, forcing turnovers on East Rockaway’s first two possessions of the game. They opened up a 7-0 lead on a Dingle three-pointer with 5:01 left in the first quarter.
“We’re really aggressive [playing] team defense,” Dingle said. “If somebody gets beat, we help. We play together . . . At practice we work hard on defense, that’s really all we work on.”
East Rockaway closed to within 16-7 after a late first quarter three from Franklin Infante, but two Dingle free throws after time expired gave Academy Charter an 18-7 lead entering the second quarter.
Academy Charter outscored East Rockaway 20-15 in the second quarter to take a commanding 38-22 halftime lead. Dingle scored 16 points in the first half, including a basket with 3:36 left in the second quarter that extended the lead to 30-12.
“We came in the gym to work hard, play defense, and play aggressive,” Martin said. “And we got it done.”
But respect, although it’s quickly on the rise for Academy Charter, won’t fully be realized on an ordinary Tuesday league night in mid-January. This group has bigger goals.
“I think we can win the championship,” Dingle said.