Ty-Shon Pannell wears a T-shirt at Central Islip practices emblazoned with three words he lives by: “Heart Over Height.’’
Pannell measures 5-9, but he stands much taller on a basketball court. In the Musketeers’ Suffolk League I opener against Longwood on Friday, there were times when he was the shortest player — but also the best.
Pannell had nine points on three three-pointers as host Central Islip opened the second half with a 20-2 run en route to a 77-59 victory. Isaiah Sween ignited the run with a three-pointer on the first possession of the second half for a 34-33 lead and 12 seconds later made a layup in transition after a Musketeers steal. Russell Antwi — who stands 5-11 — had four points on a pair of putbacks in the run, part of his standout performance on the boards.
“We feel we’re one of the fastest teams on the Island and so we emphasize speed, but what you saw right out of halftime was what happens when we bring the confidence and intensity,” Pannell said. “We were down [33-31] at the half and we just hadn’t played our best. We had to bring the energy and we did that and kept it the rest of the game.”
It was quite a stretch to start the third quarter and it went on for five minutes. The only Longwood points in that Musketeer burst came on a putback by Anthony Adams with 3:39 left in the quarter. Central Islip outscored the Lions 25-7 in the period.
“It was exhilarating,” Antwi said. “Our crowd got into it and you just fed off that energy.”
Pannell finished with 26 points, Sween 23 and Antwi 12 for Central Islip. Jeremiah Mobley had 18 points, Adams 17 and Ke’Andre Penceal 16 for Longwood (1-4, 0-1).
The Musketeers started three sophomores and two juniors a year ago and were a middling team in Suffolk I. All five have returned, and coach James Mott said, “They’ve gotten stronger and developed their skill sets. Look at Antwi: He’s not so tall but he wins the rebounding battles because of his desire.
“And Ty-Shon, he’s just one of those kids who refuses to hear it when people suggest he’s too small for the game,” Mott added. “He takes that out there with him every game, looking to make a statement.”
When reminded that Brentwood has been the big bully in League I on an almost annual basis, Sween said the Musketeers now are a better match.
“We were young a year ago,” he said. “We’re more experienced and play well together. There’s no reason we can’t play with them this year.”