"But you know what they say about three-point shooting. It can be fool's gold," Central Islip coach Jim Mott said. Sure enough, the Musketeers' offense came up dry in the third quarter and East Islip went on a 16-2 run to take the lead. The place was rocking, which was fine with Central Islip's Tim McKenzie.
"The crowd got into it and that got us going," McKenzie said. He scored three of his team's next four baskets and helped take over the fourth quarter with his rebounding and passing as No. 5 Central Islip outlasted No. 4 East Islip, 55-48, Tuesday in a Suffolk Class AA boys basketball quarterfinal.
McKenzie scored 10 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and had eight assists and Ishiah Booker scored 14 points with four first-half three-pointers to help the Musketeers (19-1) advance to Friday's semifinal against No. 8 Lindenhurst at Farmingdale State. The Redmen finished 13-4.
"We knew they'd make a run. They're tough kids," Mott said. "We started going to the basket more, and in the fourth quarter we did a better job on Maxwell."
That would be Evan Maxwell, East Islip's 6-8 senior center who closed out his career with a brilliant 26-point, 20-rebound effort that followed a 40-point, 20-rebound performance in Saturday's 60-59 victory over Kings Park.
Maxwell scored 12 points in the third quarter, including nine straight, as East Islip, which trailed by 15 in the second quarter, roared back to take a 35-34 lead on Maxwell's three-point play. "We went to a box-and-one and Brandon [Hornedo] did a great job denying him the ball," Mott said of his 6-5 senior center, who had nine rebounds and three key steals.
A three-pointer by sub Corey Pope with 4:24 remaining gave Central Islip a 46-41 lead and the Redmen got no closer. Jasean Percell (12 points) hit five of six free throws down the stretch.
"When our offense isn't clicking, we have to do the dirty work and hit the boards," McKenzie said. "But our defense has to be clicking at all times."