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Rhyjon Blackwell leads way as Baldwin advances to Nassau Class AA final

Kamani Jones, Tre Riggins deliver off the bench as No. 2 Bruins hold on for win.

Rhyjon Blackwell scored 19 points as Baldwin won

Rhyjon Blackwell scored 19 points as Baldwin won its semifinal matchup. Photo Credit: James Escher

Baldwin ended Massapequa’s surprising playoff run, but not without a scare and a struggle.

The No. 2 Bruins needed help from the bench and a 19-point effort from point guard Rhyjon Blackwell to defeat No. 11 Massapequa, 50-41, Monday night in a Nassau Class AA semifinal played at Farmingdale State.

“It was an ugly win, but we’ll take it,” Baldwin coach Darius Burton said after his team advanced to Saturday’s county championship game against No. 1 Uniondale on Saturday at 6:30 p.m., also at Farmingdale State.

The team lost some of its style points when senior captain and leading scorer Nasim Cylin injured his leg in practice over the weekend, according to Burton. He was limited in both minutes and effectiveness. “We tried to give it a go, but he was playing basically on one leg,” Burton said.

Cylin, who averages nearly 16 points a game, made only one basket, a running bank shot in the third quarter that was part of a game-turning 12-0 run that extended into the fourth.

“I had to go small and go to my bench,” Burton said.

The subs surfaced at key times. Guard Kamani Jones sank three from downtown, two in that big stretch, and forward Tre Riggins contributed five points and did a solid job on defense and on the boards in place of Cylin, a 6-3 athletic forward.

Massapequa (10-12) did not go out easily. The Chiefs, who had upset No. 6 Farmingdale and No. 3 Syosset to reach the semifinals, trimmed an early 11-point deficit to 25-20 at halftime. Kevin Voight scored all eight Massapequa points in the second quarter, including a right-corner three in the closing seconds.

Christopher Schneidler (18 points) made the fourth of his six three-pointers to bring Massapequa within 28-27 with 3:11 left in the third. Voight (14 points) nailed a baseline jumper for a 29-28 lead with 2:01 left in the period.

But Jones’ trey from the right wing sparked the 12-0 run and the combination of Baldwin’s traditionally tough defense and Blackwell’s seven fourth-quarter points and floor leadership ended the Chiefs’ season.

“Rhyjon’s the quarterback. He’s very deceptive and very quick,” Burton said. “I’ve got complete faith in him, especially down the stretch.”

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