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Commack beats the press, breaks down Riverhead in victory

Spencer Malloy of Commack works the ball around

Spencer Malloy of Commack works the ball around Riverhead's Justin Dicks (23) during the Suffolk League II boys basketball game in Commack on Friday, December 20, 2019. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

All Commack had to do was figure out how to break the press.

The Cougars rebounded from a forgettable first quarter with 20 straight points to start the second quarter and cruised from there in a 80-48 win over Riverhead in a Suffolk II boys basketball game on Friday night.

Commack trailed 17-10 after turning the ball over 10 times in the first quarter trying to adjust to Riverhead’s zone press. The Cougars had a field day when they finally broke free. Thomas Abbott (14 points) opened the second quarter with two buckets and Blaise Cammarata’s three-pointer from the right wing tied it at 17. Spencer Malloy (30 points) hit a layup for the lead and Commack (2-1) scored 11 more unanswered until Adrian Johnson scored for Riverhead (2-1) to halt the 20-0 run.

“We found out how to break the press they had going and it opened up whatever we wanted,” Malloy said. “Once we were able to get the ball past half court and keep it, our guards saw everything. They saw every open guy and we were just getting transition points easily.”

The Cougars had 27 assists with a rotating trio of guards consistently feeding a trio of forwards for inside buckets. Brendyn Cheng had seven assists and Jack Reardon and Cammarata added six apiece. With Abbot and Malloy resting in the third quarter, Travis Newman filled in with 10 of his 14 points. Commack took a 27-point lead into the fourth quarter after Newman’s brother, Gavin, scored on a layup just before the end of the third.

“These guys have played with each other for a while and they do a nice job of being unselfish and knowing where each other are,” Commack coach Peter Smith said. “When we take care of the ball we are in good shape.”

Added Reardon: “We try to get the best shot every time we come down the court . . . We don’t care who shoots it.”

The offense smoothed out once the press was handled, but Smith also credits his team’s stingy defense for creating so many offensive opportunities.

“The biggest thing tonight was one-shot opportunities . . . We were able to clear the boards and they weren’t getting any second-chance points,” Smith said. “Riverhead tries to get you to play up-tempo to get you to turn the ball over and play fast . . . They did that to us in first quarter, but we were able to shore things up by communicating and switching on defense.”

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