The Center Moriches boys basketball team was out to prove they can play with any squad on Long Island. But the Red Devils did much more than that.
Center Moriches, a Class B school, became the first school outside the top two enrollment classifications, to win the overall Suffolk championship with a 76-70 victory over Brentwood, the Suffolk AA champion, Wednesday night at Whitman High School.
“It’s never been done in history and we just made history,” said Tyiquon Nix, who had seven three-pointers and 23 points for Center Moriches. “It means everything to us.”
Sean Braithwaite added 18 points, Dayrien Franklin had 16 points -- all in the second half -- and Micah Snowden had 13 points for the Red Devils.
“We believe we are a 'AA' school in a Class B bracket,” Braithwaite said. “So we believed we can compete with anybody on the Island.”
Center Moriches opened a 19-14 lead after the first quarter, and after a back-and-forth second period featuring four lead changes, the Red Devils took a 33-30 lead into halftime. Center Moriches then used a 14-2 run over a three-minute span to open a 55-41 lead with 1:25 remaining in the third quarter, and led 58-48 after the period.
“We want to prove everybody wrong,” Braithwaite said. “We want to turn our doubters into believers.”
But Brentwood fought back, including tying the score at 67 with 2:25 left in the game, before Braithwaite knocked down two free throws with a minute left to give Center Moriches a 69-67 lead.
Bryce Harris led Brentwood with 21 points.
“Brentwood has more people at tryouts than we have in our school,” said coach Nick Thomas with a laugh. “But with that being said, you put five on the floor at all times and you go out and you compete.”
Next up, Brentwood (23-2) will play the Nassau AA champion in the Long Island Class AA Championship/Southeast regional final March 10 at the NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum at 8 p.m. Center Moriches (19-5) plays Cold Spring Harbor in the Long Island Class B Championship in a state subregional matchup Wednesday at Farmingdale State at 7 p.m.
“This group is hungry to prove to exactly all the people who doubted us,” Thomas said. “And doubted the small schools.”