Latrell Hollis, a two-way lineman on the Roosevelt football team, mixed finesse with physicality, a soft touch with hard work inside.
Hollis, the team’s sixth man, scored 13 straight points during a second-half surge as Roosevelt defeated host South Side, 62-50, Friday night in a duel for the top spot in Nassau A-II.
“It was exciting. The crowd was loud, the atmosphere was great,” the 6-3 Hollis said after his 15-point outing helped Roosevelt (7-1) reverse an early-season loss to the Cyclones (7-2).
When he re-entered the game late in the third quarter, Hollis quickly stepped into a three-pointer. When the South Side cut a seven-point deficit to 40-38, Hollis went to his inside game. He grabbed an offensive rebound — a huge advantage for the Rough Riders all night — laid it in with his left hand and drew a foul. He completed the three-point play and after a South Side turnover, made a neat one-hand tip-in to make it 45-38.
South Side point guard Brandon Grayson (15 points) ended the third-quarter with a layup to interrupt Hollis’ heroics. But only for a moment. On the first sequence of the fourth quarter, Hollis moved outside for a three-pointer and followed that up with a powerful putback that made it 50-40 with 6:25 left.
The Cyclones rallied to within 54-50 on Grayson’s jumper in the lane with 2:01 left, but that’s when Roosevelt point guard Timmy Santana (13 points) took control. Playing with four fouls, and having missed significant time because of two fouls in the first two minutes, Santana repeatedly beat his man off the dribble to get to basket. He converted six of seven free throws in the final 1:10 as the Rough Riders scored the final eight points.
“I live for that — the last two minutes of a game,” Santana said. “I either get my teammates involved or look for my shot.”
Roosevelt’s center, 6-6 1⁄2 Calvin Brown, was also a force. He scored 10 points in the first half from various angles around the rim, including a crowd-pleasing dunk off a feed from Jabori Deas that beat the first-quarter buzzer and provided a 19-15 advantage.
“We’re a rhythm team and we thrive on pressure defense,” second-year Roosevelt coach Jason Williams said. “And we’ve come a long way in the past four or five games with our team rebounding.”
Hollis was a big part of that as Roosevelt’s second-chance points were a key factor. “When I come in off the bench, I’ll do whatever it takes,” Hollis said. “Everything was open — inside and outside. I like to be versatile.”
Said Williams, “He might be a big football player, but he can shoot the three if it’s there. He was a big help.”