Center Moriches doesn’t leave opponents much room for error. Get a stop and beware of the offensive rebound. Throw a long pass and don’t be surprised if it’s picked off. Be anything but surehanded with the ball and expect a turnover.
Cold Spring Harbor made up for its mistakes with enough strong plays to give the Red Devils’ juggernaut a real test in Wednesday night’s Long Island/Southeast Regional Class B final. It was a one-point game in the final three minutes. That’s when the Seahawks’ turnovers exceeded the margin for error and Center Moriches grabbed the title.
The Red Devils forced four turnovers and had two blocked shots in a 13-5 run to close out a 56-47 win at Farmingdale State. When the buzzer sounded on its third straight Long Island championship, Center Moriches didn’t even celebrate.
“We have expectations that are really high and we are expecting to win when we go on the court,” said Sean Braithwaite, who had 20 points and was the best player on the floor. “We’ve been to a regional and we've been to a state [semifinal]. We don’t celebrate because we are determined to do more with this season.”
“It’s strictly business on this court,” said Tyiquon Nix, who had 13 points, including six in that final run.
Center Moriches (20-5) will take a 16-game winning streak into Saturday’s 3 p.m. regional final against Section I champ Dobbs Ferry (21-4) at Centereach. The winner gets a trip upstate.
“They came ready to play,” Center Moriches coach Nick Thomas said. “This was a game we had to grind out because we weren’t playing as well as we wanted. I like that we showed enough mental toughness and that we’re battle-tested enough to win a game like this.”
Braithwaite had 12 of the Devils’ 20 second-quarter points as they took a 30-24 halftime lead they would never relinquish.
Nix missed a three but snared his own rebound in the lane and put in a soft jumper for a 41-33 lead after three. But Aidan Adomaites (20 points) put back his own miss for CSH (19-3) to cut it to 43-42 with 2:58 left.
Micah Snowden was held to nine points but made big hustle plays for Center Moriches with two steals, a block and a dunk in the final spurt.
Whether the Red Devils were off or whether the Seahawks took them off their game no longer matters. They got a serious challenge and come out of it set on bringing their best next time.
Said Braithwaite: “We’re going to be dangerous when we’re playing to our strengths."