Physicality certainly wasn’t at a premium Saturday as Sweanhaka battled Hewlett in a key Nassau A-II basketball game.
Whether it was applying air-tight defense on Long Island’s top scorer, Luca Preziosi, relentlessly attacking the rim at full throttle, or utilizing a number of hard fouls, there was postseason-like intensity throughout Sewanhaka’s 66-57 victory.
In fact, the tension briefly boiled over following a timeout with 40.2 seconds left and Sewanhaka leading by six.
An altercation ensued as both teams made their way toward the sideline, with players and coaches from both sides being restrained. No punches were thrown, and no ejections or technical fouls resulted from the skirmish.
“It was just an intense game between two really good teams,” Sewanhaka coach Jay Allen said. “Two passionate coaches, guys are just playing really hard, that’s all.”
Entering the day averaging 33 points per game, Sewanhaka honed in on Preziosi from the outset with primary defender Kamaal Chin remaining glued to his side and limiting him to 20 points. In order to slow down the most prolific scorer on Long Island, Chin understood he needed to bring a distinct amount of physicality to the table.
“We knew we had to close out on him because he’s a good shooter,” Chin said. “It was important to be physical so we could get in his head a little bit.”
The Indians led 37-32 after three quarters and took control early in the fourth quarter with an 8-0 spurt capped off by Jazier Whitley blocking a layup on one end and hitting a transition three-pointer on the other, widening the lead to 45-32 at the 6:05 mark.
Hewlett (8-1 overall, 4-1 conference) intentionally fouled on each possession over the final four minutes, and the strategy enabled the Bulldogs to slowly close the gap. Jayden Boyd (13 points) knocked down two free throws with 1:42 remaining to put Sewanhaka ahead 57-45, but Preziosi ripped off eight points during a 12-5 Hewlett run to cut the deficit to five with 27.5 seconds to go.
The Bulldogs fouled Sewanhaka (10-1 overall, 6-0 conference) center Rahim Akinwunmi on the inbound, who proceeded to convert both attempts at the line to seal the win.
Akinwunmi was impressed with the team’s defensive effort on Preziosi.
“This shows that we’re well prepared for anything that comes our way,” said Akinwunmi, who scored 11 points.
Giovanni Brice also had 13 points for the Indians. After beating a previously undefeated team with their physical play, Boyd spoke about what it meant long-term.
“We think we should win the Long Island Championship,” Boyd said.