Long dormant on the Long Island boys basketball scene, Long Beach appears to have stirred this season.
It’s been nearly three decades since the school put any kind of championship marker on the boys basketball banner in its gymnasium, however it’s apparent that something is transpiring after the Marines ran their winning streak to six games with an 81-56 victory over New Hyde Park in Nassau A-I on Monday. In addition to being a long and athletic group that can be disruptive on defense, they showed a flair for making three-pointers by hitting eight outside the arc.
“I’ve been watching it come together for some time and our chemistry really seems exceptional and different this season,” said 6-4 senior Evan Michaels, a four-year varsity player. “After we made the playoffs last year and lost, I think people were dedicated to developing their games for this season.”
Helping some might be the team’s move down from Class AA because of enrollment, though Michaels believes Long Beach would have fared well in the larger classification. “It does make us a little more battle-tested,” he said.
The Marines (6-1, 3-0) played unselfishly as they held on to a share of first place and readied for games against Garden City and Calhoun later this week. Jaden Barwicki had 24 points, including three three-pointers, and Alex Bauer had 17 points with four threes. While that pair mostly stays on the perimeter, Jacob Cochran and Michaels scored 14 and 12, respectively, from spots on the low post.
Luke Orbon had 24 points and Kristos Fernandez 15 for New Hyde Park (2-6, 0-3).
“This season does feel different,” said 6-2 senior Alex Bauer. “We’re playing a better brand of basketball, there’s real bonding going on and it’s now nine or 10 seniors on the team so there’s [poise].”
Poise was key against the Gladiators. NHP scored nine unanswered points in the first quarter for a 19-12 lead and opened the second quarter with a 15-5 run — including seven points from Orbon and six from Fernandez — for a 34-21 lead 3:32 before halftime.
“We were making nothing outside and our defense wasn’t aggressive,” Barwicki said. “But we got it straightened out.”
Bauer had three of his three-pointers when the Marines owned the last minutes of the second quarter. When Bauer hit Cochran for a fast-break layup with nine seconds left, Long Beach had a 39-38 halftime lead and never looked back.
The Marines scored 23 of the first 30 points in the third quarter with Barwicki running down a loose ball in the corner and spinning to make a three-pointer and then draining a 15-footer on the next Long Beach possession for a 60-45 lead.
“It’s a really competitive group and it’s the seniors who are driving things,” Long Beach coach Scott Martin said. “It’s exactly what you want as a coach.”