When the game starts, Nae’jon Ward plays a role that is completely different from what he’s used to on a basketball court. Once he steps on the floor and Center Moriches calls his name, though, the senior is ready.
A featured player for Bridgehampton who rarely left the floor, Ward transferred to Center Moriches and often finds himself the sixth man now. But you won’t hear him complain about it.
“It was kind of different for me when I first started as a sixth man because I’ve never really done that,” the 5-9 guard said. “But I kind of took that position and made it the best I could. I just want to do good for my teammates.”
When Center Moriches was struggling for consistency on offense Sunday morning, Ward was there to lead a surge. He scored seven straight points for the Red Devils spanning the third and fourth quarters in a 64-62 victory over Chaminade at the Gary Charles Hoop Classic at Adelphi.
Ward hit a layup with 25 seconds left in the third quarter to tie the score at 45 and gave Center Moriches (10-0) a 46-45 lead 32 seconds into the fourth quarter. Chaminade had led 17-7 after the opening quarter.
“I don’t care if I come off the bench or if I don’t play,” said Ward, who had nine points. “I just want to make sure I cheer my teammates on so when I came in the game, I just had to keep the energy up and it showed on the scoreboard.”
Coach Nick Thomas said college coaches continue to show interest in Ward.
“I thought Nae’jon was terrific for us and exactly when he needed to be,” Thomas said. “And he’s done a great job of sacrificing any ego to realize to play for something bigger than himself and he’s been great with that. None of [the schools] ask him if he starts.”
Emond Frazier had 16 points and Ahkee Anderson added 13 points for Center Moriches. Kieran Dorney had 25 points for Chaminade (6-6).
“This was a really big game, so our nerves were kind of jumping, but once we got settled in, it went our way,” Ward said. “Everybody contributed.”
Dayrien Franklin, who scored 12 points, forced a steal and made the ensuing two foul shots to give the Red Devils a 64-59 advantage with 16.1 seconds remaining in the game.
“I put my teammates first and I just want to bring intensity on defense,” Franklin said. “I just saw the ball and I just went for it. It’s hard work there. I was determined to get the ball. I wanted that.”