Sean Braithwaite is a smooth operator, with a senior’s poise in the persona of a 6-5 sophomore. He hits shots as easily as he hits the boards, defends the interior or perimeter, is the team’s primary ballhandler and even jumps center.
“I love basketball. I love every minute that I’m out on the floor,” Braithwaite said. “I like doing it all.”
And so he did Tuesday night. Braithwaite filled the stat sheet with 25 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, five blocks and four steals to lead Center Moriches to an 80-60 victory over Oyster Bay in the Long Island Class B championship game at SUNY Old Westbury.
“He’s done a great job of affecting the game and showcasing all of his abilities,” Center Moriches coach Nick Thomas said.
The Suffolk champion Red Devils (20-4), who won their first Long Island crown since 2012, will face Spackenkill from Poughkeepsie in the state regional final Saturday at noon at Suffolk County CC-Selden. The winner will go to Binghamton for the state final four.
Nassau champ Oyster Bay finished 12-10. Elia Deblasio led the Baymen with 14 points.
Oyster Bay, which trailed by 24 points in the second quarter and 65-48 entering the fourth, showed some fire when Deblasio’s corner three-pointer capped a 7-0 run that made it 65-55.
That’s when the Red Devils turned up the defensive pressure and broke the game open with an 11-0 burst. Troy Goode scored eight points in the flurry while Braithwaite contributed three foul shots, a crowd-pleasing rejection that led to a basket, three defensive rebounds, two assists and a steal.
“Coach wants me to do as much as I can and take what the defense gives me,” Braithwaite said. “If they step back, I’ll hit the three. If they come up on me, I’ll drive by. They went to a zone because we were getting easy layups, so we moved the ball and found the open guy. We all can shoot, so we trust each other and play well together.”
Braithwaite had plenty of help in the Red Devils’ man-in-motion offense. Goode had 16 points, 10 assists and six steals, Tyiquon Nix scored 17 points and Nakia Durham added 13 points. Goode came up especially big after a timeout with the margin at 10.
“I had to give them a wake-up call. We were a little lax and Oyster Bay wasn’t going out without a fight,” Thomas said. “I challenged Troy and he took over down the stretch, with Sean being very instrumental.”
Goode took passes from Braithwaite to score consecutive layups during the 11-0 run that put the Red Devils back in control.
“Our defensive pressure picked up,” Goode said. “Then we got the ball in transition and attacked the basket.”
Goode was good; Braithwaite was great.