You wanna start something?
For Amityville, that was the mindset entering the final game of Sunday's's Nassau-Suffolk Challenge. It didn't matter to the Warriors that the counties had split the first four games. They wouldn't have cared if Nassau had won all four. Their mission was simple and direct: Show Baldwin, a perennial Class AA county basketball finalist, that Class A Amityville could step up in class.
And, right from the start, the message was delivered. Amityville burst to leads of 14-2 and 22-5 in the first quarter, weathered a late rally and defeated Baldwin, 73-64, in the Challenge played at the Hicksville Athletic Center for the benefit of the Uniondale PAL, which shared some of the proceeds with the Morgan Center for cancer-stricken children.
"This was very important to us,'' said Amityville guard Mike Smith, who scored 17 of his 24 points in the first half. "We wanted to represent Amityville and we wanted to represent Suffolk. It was a business trip.''
And the Warriors (11-1) sure took care of business. The crowd was still filing in when Amityville ran off 14 straight points. The fans were just getting comfortable when Smith nailed back-to-back three-pointers and fed Sean Walters for a layup and a 22-5 bulge. "The intensity was there,'' Smith said. "We felt it.''
Guard Travis Dickerson sent the Warriors into the locker room with a 44-25 lead when he scored six points in the final minute and a half as Amityville closed the half on a 7-0 run.
"When we play fast, we can be very effective,'' Dickerson said. "We like to pressure the ball and look for turnovers.''
Dickerson added 19 points, including a neat step-back jumper that ended a 12-0 run by Baldwin (9-2) midway through the third quarter that had cut a 24-point lead in half. When the Bruins made a desperate run that cut the deficit to 70-60 with 2:06 left, Dickerson drove the lane for a three-point play with 1:08 left that iced the game.
"There was a huge letup when we got the big lead in the second half,'' Dickerson said. "But then I got a rebound, saw an open lane and just attacked the basket.''
Amityville usually is in attack mode, defensively with its ball-hawking pressure, and offensively with its aggressive drive-and-kick mentality.
"These guys always respond to pressure,'' Amityville coach Jack Agostino said. "We came out very focused. We wanted to make a statement that we can play with the best AA teams.''
He acknowledged that it helps to have to stellar guards like Smith and Dickerson.
"That's a great luxury. They're both very skilled,'' Agostino said. "I don't know if there's a better backcourt on Long Island.''