Spencer Malloy didn’t need any kind of pep talk, nor words of wisdom from anyone around the Commack boys basketball team.
The senior forward knew he hadn’t played well after scoring only six points in an opening-round playoff win against Longwood on Feb. 13. So the 6-4 Malloy was excited, to say the least, for the Cougars’ home playoff game against No. 6 North Babylon.
“I was ready all week,” said Malloy, who entered Thursday averaging 18.2 points per game. “I knew what I had to do so we could win.”
Malloy scored 17 of his game-high 20 points in the first half, and added 13 rebounds, four assists and three blocks as No. 3 Commack advanced with a 64-55 win in a Suffolk Class AA quarterfinal on Thursday.
Senior reserve Nick Greco scored nine of his 17 points in the fourth quarter for Commack, which faces No. 2 Northport at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Longwood High School in the AA semifinals.
“I came out amped up,” said Malloy, who scored 10 points in the critical second quarter.
Commack, winners of 12 straight games, broke open a tight contest with a 19-6 run to close the final 6:15 of the first half and take a 35-20 lead.
“He really set the tone for us,” Greco said about Malloy. “He just bullied them down low, and that opened the whole floor for us because they kept collapsing, which gave us a lot of kick-out threes.”
North Babylon (16-6) switched from a man-to-man defense to a 2-3 zone to start the second half, which helped keep Malloy in check for the most part.
But Jack Reardon (11 points) stepped up and hit a pair of three-pointers in the third quarter, including one that bounced off the rim three times before falling, as Commack (18-4) was able to maintain its 15-point lead, 47-32.
North Babylon, which did not have a scorer average more than 12 points a game this season, played tough until the end but was never able to get closer than nine points.
Jordan Guice had 19 points, including 17 in the second half, and Kareem O’Brien added 14 points for the Bulldogs.
Greco would not let Commack miss the opportunity to advance to the semifinal round for the first time in coach Peter Smith’s 22-year tenure, including the last 14 as Cougars’ head coach. The 5-10 Greco made 4 of 5 free throws in the final 1:22.
“Our coach has never been this far, and we would love that we can be the guys to get him there,” said Malloy, who will attend St. Joseph’s (Patchogue) in the fall. “We have a shot to go as far as we ever have, so it’s huge for Commack and the whole community.”