Donnell Louissaint has spent most of his high school basketball career watching from the bench.
In his first game as Deer Park’s sixth man, the 6-4 senior helped spark a 58-55 non-league win at Uniondale.
Louissaint had 14 points, 13 rebounds, two blocks and three steals, including the game-sealing strip with two seconds remaining.
“I’ve always been the player that sits on the end of the bench,” said Loussaint, a Brentwood transfer, “and I feel like when opportunities come to us, we must embrace them. We must take advantage. I just dug deep and did what I had to do.”
Darien Jenkins scored a game-high 20 points, including 16 after halftime. But when the junior guard struggled, Loussaint stepped up.
“He’s basically the big reason why we won this game,” Jenkins said.
With his team trailing 21-11 three minutes into the second quarter, Loussaint weathered the storm. He scored nine of the Falcons’ next 11 points to keep the halftime deficit manageable at 32-22.
“He was all over the floor with energy,” coach John McCaffrey said.
After halftime, Jenkins sank a pair of running jumpers, the second of which cut Uniondale’s lead to 37-29. He closed the third quarter with a buzzer-beating three-pointer, cutting the gap to 44-40 and sparking a 12-0 run. In that spurt, he buried another three-pointer to take a 45-44 lead, the first Deer Park advantage since 2-0. The Falcons (1-0) led the rest of the way.
“Once I see one go in,” Jenkins said, “it’s like a light flicks on in my head and I just keep on going.”
Brett Talbert had nine points and four assists and Josh Pismeny had five points and six rebounds. The sophomores form a young but relatively experienced backcourt with Jenkins, as McCaffrey committed to starting the trio together last year.
Still, the hope for Deer Park is that the trio — and the entire team — continue to jell through a challenging non-league slate that includes games against Harborfields, Baldwin and Boys and Girls.
“We booked a brutal non-league schedule,” McCaffrey said.
The Falcons emerged victorious from the first test, despite Kyle Harding’s 16 points and a Uniondale team that McCaffrey said he would not be surprised to see score in the 70s regularly.
“The fact that we got to experience a hard-fought game against a really good team in their gym,’ he said, “I think it will help us.”