Mike Darby, who wants to study biomechanical engineering in college, isn’t one to forget about his assignments. But with 2.8 seconds left in the game, the Bayport-Blue Point guard didn’t even bother to defend the player he was assigned to cover and instead jumped right into a double-team of Long Island’s leading scorer, Wyandanch guard Kashawn Charles.
“I left my man wide open. I knew 100 percent that he would shoot it,” said Darby, who scored 33 points, including two tie-breaking free throws with 26.6 seconds left.
Charles’ desperate heave under heavy pressure banked harmlessly off the backboard. Host Bayport-Blue Point escaped with a 71-68 victory Monday in a spirited Suffolk VI game that could have implications for the county playoff seedings that will be announced Tuesday. Both teams are 10-4.
“I thought it might go in,” Phantoms coach Charlie Peck said of Charles’ shot from barely inside the midcourt line. That’s because Charles, who averages 30 points a game and had 23 Monday, hit a three-pointer from nearly that spot to tie the score at 68 with 31 seconds left and cap a comeback from an 18-point third-quarter deficit.
“That was really deflating because we were in a box-and-one and we had a foul to give,’’ Peck said. “We weren’t supposed to even let him shoot. But he’s got such great range and a quick release.”
Darby, who averages 25 points, was even more unstoppable, especially in the first half, when he scored 25. At that point, Charles had only six because of Bayport-Blue Point’s effective matchup zone that sent a defender out to the Warriors’ sharpshooter even when he was 35 feet from the basket.
“Our zone broke down in the second half,” Peck said. So did the Phantoms’ offense, thanks to Wyandanch’s fullcourt pressure that began shortly after a putback by Kevin Doty gave Bayport-Blue Point a 52-34 lead early in the third quarter. Doty (10 points), Zach Walker (11 points) and Ryan Lawrence (11 points) were strong inside presences.
But Charles sparked an 8-0 run with two free throws and a floater in the lane to make it 52-42. Then he scored the last basket of the quarter after a steal to cut the deficit to 56-48. Wyandanch’s Corey Stewart scored seven of his 15 points in the fourth, including consecutive layups that preceded Charles’ tying shot from downtown.
Seconds later, Darby was fouled in the bonus. He blocked out the three foul shots he missed earlier in the quarter and sank both to make it 70-68. “Nothing was going through my head at that point,” Darby said. “I was confident. I shoot 100 free throws a day in practice.”
That’s an assignment he doesn’t ignore.