Brentwood tops Ward Melville on Kellner court
The hardwood at Brentwood High School now will be known as Coach Stan Kellner Court. But Saturday it belonged to Eric Perdomo and Lawrence Hall.
During a ceremony before Brentwood's 72-44 League I win over Ward Melville, the basketball court was dedicated to Kellner, who coached Brentwood in the late 1960s and '70s, leading the Indians to eight league championships and consecutive county titles in 1971 and 1972. Kellner, heralded as a pioneer for the program, passed away in April at the age of 77.
The ceremony was attended by the Kellner family and Brentwood alumni, including Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, who starred for Kellner before moving on to North Carolina and the NBA.
"He's been my and my family's best friend for the last 45 years," Kupchak said of Kellner. "Just saying that, there's really nothing left to say."
After addressing the crowd, Kupchak said he was going to stick around for the game to see if there were any players who could help the Lakers. He may have spotted some backcourt help for Kobe Bryant.
Perdomo, who had 16 points, and Hall, who added 15 points and nine assists, showed off the multiple dimensions of their games, leading a balanced offense that exhibited selfless ball movement.
The two showed range, totaling seven three-pointers (four by Perdomo), including one by each to ignite a 12-2 second- quarter run that gave the Indians the lead for good.
The Indians displayed a swarming trap defense, forcing many turnovers, including a strip and fast-break lay-in by Hall with 4:14 remaining in the third to open a 43-31 lead for Brentwood (3-0). The lead swelled to 55-35 after consecutive three-pointers by Perdomo to end the quarter.
The Indians showed respect by defending a court that now displays the name of the man who essentially helped build it.
"It's always important for us to defend our home court," Perdomo said. "But more so today just because of all the alumni that were here and because we were dedicating the court to a very special coach."
Kupchak also may have stumbled upon a rising prospect in 6-4 sophomore Femi Olujobi, who had 11 points and 10 rebounds. Olujobi and Ruben Terrero, who added nine rebounds, crashed the offensive glass to give Brentwood numerous second-chance opportunities.
Shane Dineen scored 10 points to lead Ward Melville. Ryan Hart had eight, including a three-pointer at the buzzer in the first quarter to pull Ward Melville (2-1) within two. But the Patriots struggled to find any offensive rhythm against Brentwood's pressure defense.
"I was very proud of the way we defended," Brentwood coach Anthony Jimenez said. "The kids believe in each other right now and we're capitalizing on that."
So how would Kellner feel about the win? "He'd be very happy," Jimenez said. "He was the guy that started it all."