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Baldwin boys basketball uses pressure defense to beat Farmingdale

Jacob Oka #24 of Baldwin grabs a rebound

Jacob Oka #24 of Baldwin grabs a rebound during a non-league boys basketball game against host Farmingdale High School on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021. He recorded 10 boards and 16 points, including 10 in the third quarter, to lead the Bruins to a 54-22 win. Credit: James Escher

Baldwin walked away with first prize in Nassau AA at the Coliseum that March night in 2020, then saw the pandemic wipe out the rest of the postseason and all but four games last season.

Now the Bruins were back on the court to tip off their new season Tuesday night at Farmingdale. The expectations were running high.

"We expect to get back to the championship," Bruins coach Darius Burton had said when asked for his outlook last week.

Get back to that game, or win it?

"Win it," said Burton who is in his 22nd season with the team.

They indeed looked like a team with title potential after the first quarter. The Bruins’ relentless full-court defense helped them dominate. They held the Dalers to just one field goal in each of the last three quarters in a 54-22 non-conference victory.

"We got off to a slow start," said Burton, now just eight away from 350 career wins guiding the program. "I don’t know if it was jitters after not playing basically for a whole year. But once they got their feet wet, our defense kicked in.

"We pride ourselves on defense is our best offense. We want to keep our opponents under 55 and we want to score over 65."

Jacob Oka scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to pace his up-tempo team.

"I also think we can win another [county championship] and even go upstate and win up there, too," the 6-5 senior center said.

Ryan Woodland contributed eight of his 10 points in the opening quarter to assist Farmingdale — which was missing two starters due to injury or illness — in grabbing an 11-6 advantage.

But Gerrad Beaubrun, on his way to 11 points, hit consecutive jumpers for Baldwin to start the second quarter.

The Bruins ended up outscoring the Dalers, 17-2, in the quarter to go up 23-13 at halftime. Farmingdale went 1-for-12 with four turnovers over those eight minutes.

"I think the full-court defense worked really well," Oka said.

Oka converted two offensive rebounds into three-point plays in the third. He turned another offensive rebound into a basket and a 40-18 cushion heading to the fourth.

"We’re only going to get better from this," said Dalers coach Jim Pastier, whose team is 0-2 but has some promising young talent. "It’s not a sprint. It’s a marathon."

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