Darnell Evans wasn’t on the team last season when the Amityville boys basketball team lost three times to Miller Place, the third sending the defending state champions home in the second round of the Suffolk Class A playoffs. On the same court where his teammates’ season ended less than a year ago, Evans announced on Saturday that this season will be different.
The 5-9 guard, who transferred from Wyandanch to Amityville before the school year, scored 20 of his 32 points in the first half with eight assists and five steals as Amityville defeated Miller Place, 72-59, in a matchup between the top two teams in Suffolk VI. The Warriors (9-0) hold sole possession of first place. Miller Place is 8-2.
“We have that chemistry already,” said Amityville forward Myles Goddard, who had 18 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. “We move quicker on the fast break [with Evans] and have way more chemistry on defense, which makes it easier to make buckets.”
Amityville took the lead for good late in the first quarter after Goddard pinned a shot against the backboard to set up an easy layup for Evans and a two-point lead. in the period’s final seconds, Evans forced a steal on the next possession and drained a three-pointer from the corner off an assist from Armoni Zeigler to make it 17-12.
Miller Place’s Thomas Cirrito opened the second quarter with a three-pointer, but Evans scored the next five points to spark an 16-3 Amityville run. Goddard’s steal and layup gave Amityville its largest lead of the half at 33-18 and the Warriors led 38-26 at halftime. Evans opened the second half by blowing by his defender for a finish at the rim, allowing no confusion as to whose game this was.
“We have him handle the ball 95 percent of time because he makes things happen and he’s unselfish,” Amityville coach Gordon Thomas said. “He can score, but he’s also a very good passer and in order to win we have to spread the ball around.”
Amityville has plenty of talent to spread the ball to — Evans is averaging 25.0 points and 8.4 assists to complement Goddard (17.2 points per game) and Divaahd Lucas (15.2), who remain from the 2018 state title team, and Zeigler (12.4) and Stephen Augustine (11.6) are having breakout seasons.
“Team’s key on me when I get hot, so that just means more buckets for them,” Evans said.
“We’ve been locked in since last year’s loss,” Thomas said. “We try to learn from losses, and that’s what they did today.”