Sincere McDougal of Babylon looks to pass in the Suffolk Class...

Sincere McDougal of Babylon looks to pass in the Suffolk Class B boys basketball semfinals on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. Credit: Neil Miller

The best boys basketball player in the gym was easy to spot — home white No. 1 jersey, pink sneakers, athletic build and a smooth shooting touch from inside and outside.

Sincere McDougal sank a trio of three-pointers and had 24 points and seven assists to lead second-seeded Babylon to the Suffolk Class B championship game.

The Panthers held off third-seeded Mattituck, 55-47, in their semifinal Monday night at Babylon High School.

Babylon (7-12) will play No. 1 Pierson (14-6) on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. at Southampton High School. Pierson won both matchups in the regular season, by 11 and then by 20 when McDougal was out with an injury.

“I think we have a good chance,” the 6-3 senior combo guard said. “If we play our best game and they play their best game, I think we win.”

This will be the Panthers’ third straight trip to the final.

“First of all, it’s an honor to be going back three years in a row,” coach Bill Singleton said. “We’ve come up short the last two years. We’re going to be facing a very good Pierson team. So we’re honored to be there, but we’re not going just to be there.”

A 7-14 season, meanwhile, came to an end for the Tuckers.

“It’s a tough when you lose a playoff game,” coach Paul Ellwood said. “… It was a good season. We competed. The kids are great.”

Babylon opened the second quarter with an 11-1 run to take a 22-8 advantage. Luciano Buondonno made two three-pointers and McDougal also knocked down one from behind the arc in the burst.

McDougal went off for 12 points in the quarter and helped give the Panthers a 33-20 lead at the half.

“He’s tremendous,” Singleton said.

The lead swelled to 17 in the third before the Tuckers made a run in the fourth. Mattituck's Tommy McGunnigle (12 points) nailed a three-pointer to cut it to 50-43 with 2:59 left.

But Ben Stricoff made a steal and fed McDougal for a layup. McDougal then hit a free throw to get the margin to 10.

Ellwood praised McDougal for all his big plays.

“He’s the best player on the floor,” Ellwood said. “That’s what he’s supposed to do, and he did it.”

And he looked good in pink.

“I just like the color pink,” McDougal said. “It’s just one of my favorite colors.”

Now he will bring his quality game and his colorful sneakers to the title round.

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