Sean Braithwaite served notice on Malverne early in Tuesday night’s Long Island Class B final. The sharpshooting junior would not be denied.
Braithwaite scored 11 points in the first-quarter as Center Moriches opened a 19-point lead and went on to a 73-60 win over Malverne to capture the Long Island Class B boys basketball championship at Suffolk CCC-Brentwood.
It was the second straight Long Island Class B title for Center Moriches (21-3), which will play the Section IX/Section I winner in the state southeast regional final Saturday at either Pace University or Mount St. Mary’s.
“Sean did everything we asked of him tonight,” Center Moriches coach Nick Thomas said. “He was able to defend our basket, rebound and create scoring opportunities for his teammates. Of course, he did a lot of the scoring himself.”
Braithwaite finished with 30 points and 11 rebounds.
Center Moriches ripped off a 16-0 run for a 22-4 lead before Malverne’s Michael Warren Jr. hit a free throw with eight seconds left in the first quarter
In one sequence, Braithwaite found big man Dave Falco cutting to the basket for an uncontested layup and then pushed the ball out to Falco, who nailed a long three-pointer.
Falco then found Tyiquon Nix for an easy layup and Braithwaite turned two straight turnovers into driving layups to make it 20-4.
The Red Devils weren’t finished pushing the ball down the floor in the final seconds as Nix found Brad Sakellarides alone in the corner. where he buried a three-pointer just before time expired for a 25-6 lead.
“I took what the defense gave me and I stayed aggressive,” Braithwaite said. “We got a great performance from Falco and a full team effort against a very athletic Malverne team.”
Braithwaite had 15 points as Center Moriches took a 41-20 lead into the half. But Malverne (17-5) didn’t quit, making a big run in the third quarter and cutting the deficit to 51-38 before Dylan Bryant drove the lane and looked inside to a cutting Falco for the lay-in to close the quarter at 53-38.
“Dylan drove the baseline and made a great look in the middle and got me the ball,” said Falco, who finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. “We played really well as a team as everyone contributed.”
Malverne’s Makhia Effs hit a driving layup to cut the Red Devils lead to 54-45 with 5:25 left in the game but Braithwaite took over and scored six straight points before Bryant drilled a three-pointer from the wing to make it 63-48 with 2:43 left.