At 6-7, Malverne’s Trey Robinson cannot be stopped by just one player. It takes two and sometimes even three defenders to try and contain him.
Robinson wore down the Wheatley defense on Saturday and scored 11 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter and four more in overtime to lead the Malverne boys basketball team to a 70-64 win in Nassau Conference B-I. He totaled 14 rebounds in the Mules’ (5-1) eighth consecutive victory.
"I was ready for them to send double and triple teams my way. We played them earlier in the season and that’s what they did then," Robinson said. "We worked on it in practice and it helped prepare me for today’s game."
Wheatley (4-4) handed Malverne its lone conference loss with a 53-49 victory on Dec. 14. The familiarity was key this time around for Robinson and company.
"We knew that we were well-conditioned and wouldn’t get tired at the end of the game. We do a lot of running in practice," Robinson said. "They [Wheatley] constantly preach running up and down the court, so we recognized they were going to wear down a bit, and it allowed us to make that final push."
Malverne led 58-54 with 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter and fouled Wheatley’s Will Karikas as he drove to the basket. Karikas (23 points) made both free throws to cut the deficit to two.
On the ensuing inbounds pass, the Wildcats forced a jump ball and were awarded possession. Jimmy O’Connell (29 points) made a basket with 20 seconds remaining and tied the score at 58. The Mules had a chance to win it in regulation, but their long-range attempt missed, and the game headed to overtime.
Malverne scored the first four points of the four-minute overtime period, but O’Connell kept his team in it and got Wheatley to within two. With time dwindling down, Farvens Ulysse skied for an offensive rebound and made a putback to give the Mules a 66-62 lead. Malverne knocked down free throws the rest of the way and secured the victory.
Ulysse had 15 points, 14 rebounds and six assists, Joshua Croom added 12 points, six rebounds and five assists and DeAndre Blagrove added nine points and 14 rebounds for Malverne.
"We just want to win a state championship. That is our goal for the season," Robinson said. "Wheatley is probably one of the best teams that we are going to play this season. This was a good test for us and it felt great to come away with a win."