Baldwin holds off Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK to win sixth Nassau Class AA title in 10 tries
They knew the run was coming. They were more than ready for it.
Baldwin was almost making it look too easy in Saturday night’s Nassau AA boys basketball championship game against Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK. The Bruins grabbed a double-digit lead fairly early and had held it for most of the game with their pressing and running style. Then, early in the fourth quarter, the Hawks scored seven straight to make it an eight-point game.
Baldwin, as usual, had an answer. On their next three possessions, the Bruins scored — on a Jacob Oka putback, a Joshua Petion fast-break layup and one of two free throws from Jamir Stewart — to end the threat. From there, the Bruins rolled to a 55-44 victory at Hofstra.
"Baldwin is special because they don’t just have two or three options," Hawks coach Michael Harris said. "They throw seven excellent players at you and they play a relentless style. No one gets any kind of a break against those guys."
"The thing I’ve liked most about how they play is they do it collectively and anyone could be our top scorer or make the big plays," Baldwin coach Darius Burton said. "We always say ‘be allergic to losing.' "
Baldwin is county champion for the ninth time and has won six of the last 10 Nassau Class AA title games. The Bruins (21-1) begin their quest to reach the state public school championship — something they have never done — on March 12 at Hofstra when they clash with Suffolk AA winner Half Hollow Hills East (18-6) for the Long Island Class AA championship.
"I look at these guys and they are the ones who want to make history for the school," Burton said. "I didn’t think we’d come this far this fast, but they are playing really well together."
Petion finished with 14 points, Stewart and Oka scored 10 points apiece and Kadeem Ramsay and Gerrad Beaubrun each added eight points for Baldwin. Dylan Banner had 21 points and three assists for the Hawks (16-6).
"The place where you see how good our team chemistry is the way we play defense," Oka said. "We expected they could make a late run at them. This was the third time we played them. But when they did, our defense and chemistry took things back."
The stingy Bruins defense allowed the Hawks only seven points in each of the first two quarters for a 26-14 halftime lead.
"We ride on our defense," Petion said. "We hold teams down and that’s why we win."