The drive for five began with a shift in gears.
The Stony Brook School had lost twice to Greenport and had been scorched both times by freshman phenom Ahkeem Anderson, who scored 18 points in a 27-point victory Jan. 11 and netted 24 in a five-point win Jan. 27.
“He’s the engine that makes them go,” Stony Brook coach Mike Hickey said. So he took his best defensive player, 5-9 junior guard Emil Vaughn, out of the garage and assigned him to guard Anderson. “He’s not normally a starter, but I challenged him to go wherever he went, for 94 feet,” Hickey said. “Emil definitely did the job.”
Vaughn’s denial defense limited Anderson, who averaged nearly 20 points, to just nine — two in the first half — and Mac Bohuny had 19 points and 12 rebounds to lead Stony Brook to its fifth consecutive Suffolk Class C championship with a 49-35 victory over Greenport on Sunday at Suffolk County CC-Selden.
Stony Brook (13-9) advances to tomorrow’s Suffolk Class C-D game against Bridgehampton at 5 p.m. at Suffolk CCC-Brentwood in the small-school bracket of the county tournament. The Bears also advance to the state Class C regional semifinals against Nassau automatic qualifier East Rockaway at 5 p.m. on March 7 at SUNY Old Westbury.
“Greatness becomes something we expect,” Bohuny said. “We practice every day like it’s a playoff game.”
The Bears were only 5-5 in league play but advanced to the final with a 50-47 victory over Port Jefferson in Thursday’s semifinal. They stifled not only Anderson but the entire Greenport team, which had averaged 86 points in its previous six games.
“We came into this game off two losses to Greenport and we knew he [Anderson] was their top guy,’’ said Vaughn, who didn’t score but racked up plenty of points with his coach and teammates. “We knew he got the ball at the top of the key, so we denied him and forced him to the sidelines.”
“Emil was our spark,” Bohuny said, and Hickey added, “He understood his role and answered my challenge.”
The Bears got an additional defensive boost from 6-6 senior forward Jyles Etienne, who made sure no other Porter took advantage of the focus on Anderson.
“My role was to stay in the paint and block everything that came my way,” said Etienne, who had four of his five blocks in the first half as Stony Brook took a 20-12 lead.
When the Porters rallied to within 34-27 early in the third, Etienne (eight points, 13 rebounds) responded with the play of the game. He took a long lob pass from John Eshirow off the inbounds under the Bears’ basket, dunked over a defender, drew a foul and hit the free throw. Stony Brook was never threatened thereafter.
“We had a lot of losses. It was a tough road to get here,” Etienne said.
Defense paved the way.