Things were going so well for Central Islip in the third quarter that even what appeared to be a rushed shot turned into a gold rush.
After Central Islip forced yet another turnover, Ishiah Booker raced down the left side and, despite not having numbers on the break, pulled up for a long three-pointer. Booker not only hit the shot but got hit, drawing a foul. He sank the free throw for a rare four-point play, part of a game-breaking 10-0 run that propelled host Central Islip to a 71-50 victory over Lindenhurst in Suffolk II boys basketball Friday night.
"We just played with heart. We're like one big family," said Booker, who had 15 points and was one of four Musketeers in double figures.
He didn't dwell on his long trey but rather on the team's trapping pressure defense that produced 10 steals and was a key factor in a 25-point third quarter that helped Central Islip (7-0, 3-0) remain unbeaten. "Our defense was real good,'' he said. "Coach pushes us hard in practice and we push each other."
Tim McKenzie did a lot of the pushing. The 6-4 junior forward scored 15 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and keyed the defense with five steals.
"I like to do the dirty work," McKenzie said. "I'll go up strong and try for the and-one or hit the offensive boards. Our team is defense-first. That's what we do first in practice."
That philosophy produces a lot of points off turnovers. Guard Jasean Percell cashed in for 16 points and had seven assists. Brandon Hornedo produced a double-double (12 points, 12 rebounds).
"Then we turned up the defensive intensity," McKenzie said. A 10-0 run in which McKenzie scored twice off putbacks gave Central Islip a 23-17 edge that grew to as many as 25 points as Lindenhurst wilted against the relentless defense.
"Defense is what we emphasize," Central Islip coach James Mott said. "Sometimes the shots don't fall, but you can always play defense. Our guys bought into it and I hope they keep buying into it."