On a night when his coach was leaving immediately after the game to take his son to see the new Star Wars movie, Half Hollow Hills West guard Richard Altenord was the primary force in making that trip to the movies a little more pleasant.
“I’ve been using Star Wars references all day, and I told Richard the force was with him,” Hills West coach Bill Mitaritonna said with Yoda-like wisdom.
Altenord, a 6-4 point guard, had 22 points and five assists and made the key basket late as host Half Hollow Hills West pulled away from Deer Park, 67-58, on Thursday in a duel of Suffolk IV favorites. The Colts are 2-0; the Falcons fell to 1-1.
Donnell Louissaint came off the bench to score 10 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter to spark a Deer Park rally that erased most of a 45-29 third-quarter deficit. Josh Pismeny scored on a breakaway to bring the Falcons to within 56-54 with 1:40 left.
That’s when Mitaritonna called a timeout to set up a play for his other long guard, 6-5 Kian Dalyrimple (17 points, 12 rebounds). “The original call was for Kian to score in the post,” Mitaritonna said. “But Deer Park did a great job of blowing that play up. So Richie used his athleticism to finish. That was a huge play in a two-point game.”
Altenord kept his dribble alive on the perimeter, made a move to blow past his defender and scored on an acrobatic, driving bank shot for a four-point lead with 1:20 left. After a Deer Park timeout, the Colts double-teamed sharpshooting Darien Jenkins (16 points, four three-pointers), forcing a five-second violation. Cameron Jordan (16 points) made one of two free throws to make it 61-56, and Dalyrimple (four) and Altenord (two) made all their free throws in the final 47 seconds to seal the deal.
“Me and Kian are the leaders. He’s known for making big plays,” Altenord said. “But I’ve been in this program for three years and I know what we need to do to win games.”
What the Colts needed was Altenord to be a Jedi-like warrior with the game on the line. “We let them score a little too much in the second half, but we’re always prepared to play a close game,” he said. “The whole game they were slacking off me a little and I was able to get to the basket.”
It was a four-star performance.