Three ball, corner pocket.
For Island Trees, that was the cue, as the host Bulldogs racked up 10 threes, seven from the corner, and defeated Seaford, 63-48, Wednesday night in a duel of the top teams in Nassau A-IV.
Vinny Battaglia scored 16 points, including three from downtown, grabbed 10 rebounds and made six steals to lead Island Trees (5-1). “That’s our best play,” Battaglia said of the three-pointer from the corner, a staple all season for the Bulldogs. “We keep moving the ball and pass it to the open spot.”
Frequently, that was the left corner. “That’s my spot,’’ Battaglia said. “I don’t know why.”
Coach Mike Wimmer had an explanation. “We want to shift someone out of the corner with penetration. The corner is the shortest three on the court. Everything we do is about the corner, and they’re confident there.”
Robert Ferrufino demonstrated that with three of his four treys coming in the first quarter, two from — where else? — the left corner and the other from the right. He scored 12 points and added seven rebounds. “When he’s hitting threes, that spreads the floor and opens it up for us,” Wimmer said.
The Bulldogs took control with a 14-0 run spanning the first and second quarters that erased a 13-10 deficit. Ferrufino started it with a three-pointer and Battaglia had the hot hand to start the second quarter, scoring seven straight points, including a three after a pump fake that beat the shot-clock buzzer.
Island Trees’ success on deep shots and a ball-hawking defense that produced a dozen steals allowed guards Matt Antonelli and Joe Santoro to find space down the lane for drives or dishes. Antonelli scored 15 points and had 10 assists, while Santoro added 13 points.
The Bulldogs put the game on ice with three consecutive corner threes early in the fourth quarter — by Nicholas Corita, Antonelli and Batttaglia — that made it 57-35. A.J. Cain led the Vikings, who suffered their first league loss and also are 5-1, with 19 points.
“It felt like a playoff atmosphere,” Battaglia said of the spirited crowd. “We feed off each other and when we get it going, we’re pretty much unstoppable.”
It was the first time Wimmer, in his fourth year as head coach at Island Trees, had beaten perennial league power Seaford. “It was a great program win,” he said.
You could say the Bulldogs had turned a corner.