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Darius Townsend, Ian Junge power Sachem North over Sachem East

Sachem North guard Darius Townsend drives the ball

Sachem North guard Darius Townsend drives the ball against Sachem East in a Suffolk boys basketball game on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Before Tuesday night's game between Sachem North and Sachem East, Tom Sabatelle was asked who he'd be rooting for.

"Sachem," he said jokingly. "Tonight, I can't lose, can I?"

Nope. Especially not on a night when the gym was named after him.

The former student, athlete, teacher, coach and athletic director at Sachem watched as Darius Townsend and Ian Junge led host Sachem North to a 73-42 win over Sachem East in the Thomas J. Sabatelle Alumni Gymnasium.

"I'm deeply honored," Sabatelle said. "With all the great athletic contests that happened in that gym, no matter what the sport, there are so many memories in there. It's phenomenal."

What was also phenomenal Tuesday night was the Flaming Arrows' up-tempo offense, in which they keep the ball moving, play unselfishly, and turn the game into what coach Tom Mullee called a track meet.

Townsend, a point guard who controlled the tempo, had 16 points, six assists and six rebounds and Junge, a forward and inside presence, added a season-high 13 points, five rebounds and four blocks.

"Our game is transition," Townsend said. "Once we started getting stops and not letting them set up in their zone, we started to pull away. When we got the tempo going, that's how we play."

Blake Thompson, who had nine points, hit a runner plus the foul for a three-point play that capped a 14-0 run and gave North a 21-7 lead with 1:34 left in the first quarter.

Derrick Lawson scored all 12 of his points in the first half, including a pull-up jumper at the buzzer that sent North (3-1) into the break with a 43-25 lead.

After Junge rejected two shots on the same possession, Nick Morena drained a straightaway three to open a 48-25 lead early in the third. Morena, who had 12 points and seven rebounds, hit a corner three on the next possession to increase the lead to 26.

Jake Passaretti led Sachem East (0-5) with 13 points, and Chris Balsamo and Luc Raio each added six.

"To get the win for Mr. Sabatelle and bring it home for North is a really big deal for us," Junge said. "It was nice to see the ceremony and listen to all of the great things that he has done for Sachem."

Sabatelle -- a 1960 graduate from Sachem, where he was a three-sport athlete -- was a physical education teacher from 1964 to 1974 and then served as the director of health, physical education and athletics until 1998. Sabatelle was honored at halftime, as he and his wife, Camille, stood at center court in the gym now named after him.

"Sixty years ago, I put on my first Sachem jersey, and Camille reminds me that it doesn't fit anymore," Sabatelle said during his speech. "But to think, after all these years, I still have a bond with Sachem, it's overwhelming. I wish for all Sachem players and students that same feeling that I have 60 years from now."

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