The Huntington boys basketball team found itself struggling to score from the outside at the start of the season despite scrimmages in which the shots had been dropping.
After an opening loss, the Blue Devils decided to go to the press, and Thursday night they won their second straight game, earning a 53-39 victory over Hauppauge in the League IV opener for both.
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"It was an oddity because we shot well during scrimmages," Huntington coach Brian Carey said. "In order to change the tempo up a little bit and force us to go to the basket, we started pressing, and it worked well for us."
Huntington (2-1) held Hauppauge (0-3) to four points in each of the second and third quarters, forcing a dozen turnovers in the middle periods. Connor Birchard (eight points) had four of his seven steals in the second quarter and Huntington finished with 19 steals.
"We pressed a little bit against Lynbrook [in the last game] and we just started right off the bat today but pulled off a little bit [early]," Carey said. "But then we decided to go full-bore."
The press helped Huntington beat Lynbrook and proved to be a force against Hauppauge. "We notched up the intensity a little bit, and that was something that Hauppauge didn't respond to well," Carey said.
Patrick Reilly led Huntington with 14 points and added 10 rebounds. C.J. Capilets had 11 points for Hauppauge.
Bringing out the high-intensity press wasn't something Carey saw happening early in the season, but it's helped with the last two wins.
"When you press, it's a commitment of all five guys," he said. "If one guy breaks down, you're in trouble. This was a satisfying last three halves of basketball we've been playing to see everybody buying in.''