Multiple times in the second half of Friday’s non-league boys basketball game between Center Moriches and host Longwood, the crowd got to its feet to urge the home team back into the game.
And each time the Red Devils came up with a big play to quiet them down.
Ahkee Anderson had 29 points and 10 assists, Emond Frazier had 18 points and Jaden Kealey chipped in with 16 as the Red Devils built a big lead early and held steady to defeat Longwood, 77-62.
Anderson, playing in his second game for Center Moriches after previously starring at Greenport, scored nine of his 29 in the fourth and all but two points after the first quarter.
“I think it’s been a great fit here for me,” Anderson said. “We’re coming together and everybody is working hard in practice and it’s showing on the court.”
An Anderson steal and layup with under a minute left in the first half gave Center Moriches its biggest lead at 43-26 before the Lions cut their deficit to eight multiple times in the second half.
“We just wanted to keep attacking,” Anderson said. “We talked about keeping our composure and not letting the crowd get into our head and not fouling. We were able to close out the [third] quarter well.”
Early on the game was back-and-forth with neither team able to grab a lead of more than four, which the Red Devils did just 25 seconds after the opening tip. Frazier hit his second three later in the first quarter to put Center Moriches ahead 15-12 and had two more threes in the second as the Red Devils opened up a 43-26 lead.
“Emond has always been a good player but it’s just now that people are starting to see it,” Center Moriches coach Nick Thomas said. “There were times last year in practice where he was the best player on the floor. This is what we’ve known him to be all along and I’m happy for him that he gets to show everybody else.”
The Lions crept back into the game largely on the back of Ke’Andre Penceal, who scored 26 points, including 10 in a span of just more than two minutes late in the second quarter to keep Longwood in the game. Jeremiah Mobley chipped in with 18 for the Lions.
“We’ve been through these scenarios against good teams many times,” Frazier said. “Coach just tells us to keep calm, stay engaged and don’t let them match our intensity and to just keep going harder.”
Thomas intentionally put together a tough non-league schedule to help the newcomers quickly mesh with a core that reached last year's state Class B semifinal.
“We have big players that came in and they were the perfect pieces that fit right into the puzzle,” Frazier said. “We’ve been doing this and we’re used to it. We’re trying to go back upstate.”