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Keith Tompkins, Elmont finish strong in victory over Deer Park at Nassau-Suffolk Challenge

Elmont's Keith Tompkins, right, looks to pass around

Elmont's Keith Tompkins, right, looks to pass around Deer Park's Aaren Edmead during the third quarter of a non-league varsity boys' basketball game at Hicksville Athletic Center. (Jan. 19, 2014) Credit: James Escher

Now this was a closeout sale.

Elmont closed out the third quarter on a 15-0 run and the fourth quarter on a 17-4 run to close the deal on Deer Park, 72-59, Sunday in the third game of the Nassau-Suffolk Challenge at the Hicksville Athletic Center.

"We rebounded more and got out on the break. That's our game," said guard Keith Tompkins, who scored nine of his 14 points in the fourth quarter.

Tompkins delivered his own buy one, get one special midway through the fourth quarter to turn the game.

Deer Park had erased a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit with a burst of its own and trailed 59-57 when Tompkins got open on the left wing and drained a three-pointer. On the next possession, Tompkins made a flashy spin move in the lane and finished with his left hand. The Spartans (7-3) were on their way.

"After I buried that three, it was our game," Tompkins said.

Chiazam Nwankwo made sure that would be the case with a couple of breakaway layups down the stretch. He led Elmont with 19 points. Point guard Tristan Brown scored 14 of his 15 points in the second half.

Deer Park (9-2), a Suffolk AA finalist last season, was led by Aaren Edmead, who had 21 points, and Karon Blackwell, who scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half.

"Edmead was killing us," Elmont coach George Holub said of the Wagner-bound guard, who was determined to get to the basket in the second half.

On four consecutive possessions, Edmead made a layup in traffic, drew a foul and made one of two free throws, drew another foul and sank both, and penetrated and kicked to Ajani Briggs for a three-pointer.

So Holub abandoned the Spartans' bread-and-butter man-to-man and switched to a 2-3 zone. "As soon as we went zone, we started rebounding better," Holub said. "It's all about defense for us."

It's also about pace, and Elmont thrives in transition. It will live with turnovers as long as there are explosions of points that go with the miscues. "We have to run and we have to push the tempo," Nwankwo said. "Then we started playing lockdown defense and made the extra pass. We have great chemistry. We're very close as a team and we play together."

The Falcons built a 31-22 lead in the second quarter after Blackwell produced a three-point play with a sensational high-speed blow-by, spin to the hoop and lefty layup. It came after Deer Park's defense forced a turnover.

"Coach said they'd pressure us, but we stayed strong," Tompkins said.

Said Holub, "Most of these kids are seniors and they have something inside that makes them want to represent Elmont basketball."

They want to close out their careers in style.

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