Craig Brown and his 6-6 frame can certainly dominate offensively for the Uniondale boys basketball team.
However, the sophomore doesn’t put scoring at the forefront.
“I take more pride in blocking shots than I do in scoring,” Brown said. “I’m an all-around team player. I like defense more than offense.”
Brown’s rim-protecting capabilities were on full display early in the third quarter of Uniondale’s 71-62 non-league home victory over Copiague in the third Richard Brown Nassau-Suffolk Challenge on Saturday night.
Brown blocked back-to-back Copiague field-goal attempts during the first minute of the second half. Uniondale then knocked the ball out of bounds, and the Eagles tried their luck with Brown again on the ensuing inbounds play.
Swat once again.
Brown was a force for Uniondale (10-2). He recorded 16 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks en route to earning the game’s Most Outstanding Player award.
“He’s a game-changer,” Uniondale coach Tom Diana said of Brown.
The Knights created some separation about midway through the third quarter thanks to an 11-4 run that gave them a 40-32 lead. Junior guard Danny Ashley, who had 13 points and eight assists, capped off the spurt with a challenging conversion at the rim.
“We were expecting a pep-talk at halftime,” Ashley said. “That really got us fired up at halftime, so we came out with an aggressive mindset.”
Senior forward De’Shaun Jackson added 12 points and 10 rebounds for Uniondale.
Brown gave the Knights a 10-point advantage with four minutes remaining by finishing at the rim. A corner three-pointer by Kobe Howlett with 2:53 left essentially sealed it at 64-54.
The contest featured 14 first-half lead changes. Uniondale led 29-28 at halftime.
Copiague (6-6) forward Michael Snowden was a handful for the Knights to contain. The junior scored 23 points and was named the Eagles’ Most Outstanding Player.
Uniondale has impressed this season after a 12-8 campaign in 2015-2016 that concluded with a 49-47 loss to Freeport in the Nassau Class AA quarterfinals.
“We’re using that as motivation,” Brown said. “Last year I was injured. I didn’t get to play a lot. Now I’m back.”
But offense remained a side note for Brown.
“It’s all about defense. Defense wins championships.”