Darien Davis wears the number "00" on the back of his Longwood jersey. It might as well be "007" because, like James Bond, the 6-1 senior guard has a license to shoot.
"Coach says when I'm open, I've got to shoot it," said Davis, whose wide grin acknowledged what has been obvious all season: He loves to follow coach's orders.
Davis scored 31 points, including seven three-pointers, one of them coming with 1:25 left that broke a tie at 61 and propelled Longwood to a hard-fought 67-65 victory last night over host Ward Melville in a Suffolk League I game.
The Lions, who won the earlier meeting, 102-69, improved to 9-0. The Patriots fell to 3-6.
"They were a different team this time. They were prepared for us," said Davis, who had five three-pointers in the first half.
The Patriots' preparation included better ball movement and improved passing against Longwood's vaunted trap. They kept their composure when the Lions grabbed a 20-10 lead late in the first quarter, closing out the period on a 7-0 run that let the visitors know this one would be nothing like the last one.
Ward Melville, with Kyle Lombardo scoring 12 of his 14 points in the first half, thrilled their fans by taking a 38-32 lead against Newsday's No. 2-rated team. The Patriots finally wilted a bit in the third and fourth quarters after building a 52-43 lead.
Longwood's relentless trapping defense started to force turnovers and Ward Melville did not score for more than six minutes as the lead dwindled to 52-51.
"We finally stepped up our defense in the fourth quarter," Lions coach Dennis Terry said. "We were sleepwalking for most of the first half."
Both teams were alert in the fourth quarter, however, with the lead changing hands several times.
Tajric Boggs (17 points) turned a steal into a layup and Davis followed with another layup off a Ward Melville turnover for a 59-55 advantage. But a three-point play by Tyler Hegarty, a tough drive in traffic by Lombardo and a free throw by Shane Dineen (11 points off the bench) tied it at 61 with 1:38 left.
"Give praise to Ward Melville. This was a battle and every possession counted down the stretch," Terry said.
No possession was more crucial than the one after Dineen's free throw. "In that situation, we had to run something specific for Darien," Terry said. "He came off a screen and knocked down the three. Then he hit those crucial free throws to seal it."
Longwood led 65-63 when Davis went to the foul line, shooting two. The clock read . . . "009.''
If it were a movie, it would've read "007." Still, Davis was the leading man last night.