In the Northport basketball universe, 6-7 center Lukas Jarrett is the sun around which the other four starters revolve. Opponents trying a total-eclipse defense to shut off Garrett run the risk of getting sunburned.
That was the case Tuesday night when Northport’s Sean O’Shea took advantage of host North Babylon’s focus on Jarrett to sink four three-pointers and score 16 points to lead the Tigers to a 52-46 non-league victory.
“Lukas is our main man. They were keying on him so we got open looks,” O’Shea said. “We know Lukas is unselfish and he’s a great passer.”
Jarrett, who scored 10 points, kept the ball moving in the Tigers’ motion offense, which resulted in nine successful treys. Point guard Whelan Brennan added 11 points as Northport improved to 2-0. Impressive sophomore center Billy Muller, a stocky 6-5 presence who battled Jarrett all night, scored 15 points for the Bulldogs (0-1) while Tyree Grimsley added 11 and Brandon Sobotker 10.
Northport’s switching defenses confounded North Babylon, especially during the second quarter, when the Tigers had a 15-4 advantage to take a 25-19 halftime lead. Jarrett, a smooth-shooting lefty, scored six points in that quarter.
He scored his other two baskets early in the third quarter when, after a corner trey by Joe Stockman, Northport grabbed its biggest lead at 35-23. “I was impressed with our defense,” Northport coach Andrew D’Eloia said.
The Bulldogs made it interesting in the fourth quarter. Muller’s baseline jumper cut the deficit to 43-38 and Sobotker’s drive through traffic made it 48-42 with 2:44 left. North Babylon had a chance to get even closer, but the Tigers’ defense forced a long three that missed with 1:42 left.
Northport then worked the clock before O’Shea drove baseline, drew the defense and fed Brennan in the corner for a game-clinching three-pointer. “That play actually got disrupted,” O’Shea said. “But I finally got to the baseline, saw Brennan open and made the pass.”
D’Eloia is counting on a lot of that from his veteran backcourt. “Sean and Whelan are three-year varsity starters who are a pleasure to coach,” he said. “They always do the right things.”
Of course, it helps having Jarrett, another senior, around to draw so much attention. “Lukas is always a presence and plays hard at both ends of the floor,” D’Eloia said. “With him in the middle of our offense, we’ll get open looks. It’s all predicated on what the defense gives us. Our guys know they have the green light to shoot.”