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Akingboye leads Uniondale past Baldwin

Uniondale's Bolade Akingboye (15, left), goes up for

Uniondale's Bolade Akingboye (15, left), goes up for two over Baldwin's Tziah Woods Smith (42, right), during their game at Uniondale HS. (December 18, 2009) Credit: Freelance/Photo by Richard Slattery

In Nigeria, Bolade Akingboye's name means "to come with wealth."

The Uniondale senior guard is the only returning starter from last season's state Final Four team. And the wealth of experience he brings was evident Friday night in Uniondale's 67-64 Conference AA-I win over visiting Baldwin in a rematch of last year's county final.

Akingboye (18 points) scored seven of his team's final 10 points and helped blunt a late rally by the Bruins, who cut into what had been a 16-point deficit.

Baldwin's Kareem Daniel made a layup with 2:26 remaining to trim Uniondale's lead to 60-59, the closest margin since the first quarter. But after a timeout, Akingboye hit two free throws and a layup. After a basket by Baldwin's Dominique Aberdeen, Akingboye sank another free throw.

How did he stay so calm?

"I just think I'm John Wall," Akingboye said of the Kentucky freshman, who has made 48 of 61 free throws this season.

"In my opinion, he's one of the best players on the Island," Uniondale coach Tom Diana said. "His experience means the world to us . . . He's a very strong, tough-minded player."

A furious Baldwin rally made Akingboye's offensive surge necessary. Spirited second-half efforts by Aberdeen (18 of his 21 points) and Ashanti DePass (15 of his 17 points) got the Bruins back in it. Said Diana: "You expect that from a team like Baldwin."

After Akingboye's run, Goey Charles and Claudy Casseus made a free throw each before Baldwin's Aaron Greene (15 points) hit a three-pointer at the buzzer.

"We stayed poised," Akingboye said. "Sometimes we get a little frantic. We tried to slow things down."

Uniondale (2-0) built its early lead with tenacious defense. The Knights held Baldwin to six second-quarter points and led 31-17 at the half.

Shaquille Mosley had 15 points, seven assists and six rebounds for Uniondale. Charles added 14 points and 10 rebounds and Casseus had eight points and 11 rebounds. Casseus was particularly prolific at drawing charges.

"It's just from practicing," he said. "I gave my body for the team."

The game had a playoff atmosphere, with fans on both sides exploding after each late basket. Akingboye noted that the Knights still have to win at Baldwin.

"It's exciting,'' he said, "but we don't take it as that big of a deal."

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