In their last meeting, Baldwin was victimized by streak-stopping Westbury. On Friday night, before a full house that created a playoff-like atmosphere, host Westbury was victimized by streak-shooting Baldwin.
“We had a very big chip on our shoulder,” said Baldwin’s Elijah Bovell, who scored 30 points and contributed eight rebounds and four steals in the Bruins’ exciting 76-72 victory over host Westbury in the final Nassau AA-II game for both teams.
“They ruined our streaks. We remembered. We didn’t want them to be undefeated in the league or get the automatic No. 1 seed,” Baldwin coach Darius Burton said of Westbury, which had already clinched the league title but is now 11-1 and no longer assured of a top-seed for the upcoming playoffs.
Baldwin is 10-2, but when it lost to the Green Dragons. 63-57, on Jan. 17, it was the end of a 36-game home winning streak and 48-game unbeaten streak in league play. “The bus ride over here was quiet,” Burton said.
Bovell made plenty of noise, beginning with a buzzer-beating three-pointer to end the first quarter. “That was my first basket and then I got a shooter’s bounce on another three [early in the second quarter] and I knew I was on.”
Jonathan Dean (24 points) and Jalyn Dunlap (22 points off the bench) were on for Westbury, and Nasim Cylin had 12 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Bruins, who according to Burton had 21 assists among its 28 baskets. “It was a great atmosphere. Like the playoffs,” said Bovell, who scored eight points in the fourth quarter, including a breakaway layup off an inbounds pass with 33 seconds left that provided an insurmountable 72-67 lead.
The fourth quarter was particularly tense, with seven lead changes. Darius Young (11 points), Westbury’s leading scorer who was contained for most of the night, electrified the crowd with a long three from the right wing for a 57-56 lead with 5:50 left and a conventional three-point play off a pump-fake and driving layup for a 61-60 lead a minute later. He also assisted on Dean’s corner three that tied it at 67 with 2:13 left.
That’s when the Bruins seized the moment. Norman Wilson (nine points, seven assists) hit a pullup jumper and free throw and made the pass that sprung Bovell for his layup. Matt Trepeta added two free throws in that clinching 7-0 run.
“We wanted to attack the basket and when they contested the shot we pulled up and shot the three better,” Burton said.
Especially Bovell, who had four from downtown. “Once I got the threes to go down, it got the rest of my game going,” he said. “If they came up on me, I’d blow by. This game was a reminder that we’re still here. We’re Baldwin.”
The defending Long Island Class AA champions.