Been on vacation since just before Christmas and return on Jan. 4, just in time for the league schedules to heat up. Checked out the action at the Holiday Classic Tournament at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue on Wednesday night. Longwood defeated Bellport, 82-62, in the title game, as Darien Davis led the Lions with 15 points and numerous steals. Tajric Boggs and Patrick Piasecki added 10 apiece. The Clipers were led by relentless Connor Fedge, who scored 24 points.
Some quick impressions:
* Longwood has the quickness, depth and, most of all, defensive mindset to challenge for the AA Suffolk and Long Island titles. Yes, I think they can run with Half Hollow Hills West. Not sure if they have an answer inside for Tobias Harris, but they will trap and pressure the ball. A Colts-Lions county final would be sensational.
* Bayport-Blue Point’s frontcourt duo of Reid Drzal and Miles Prendergast is very impressive. Both have excellent hands and touch around the basket. The Phantoms made up a 20-point deficit against Longwood before fading in the fourth quarter of their first-round matchup. They handled Riverhead easily in the consolation game. Phantoms are a legit Class A title contender.
* The Holiday Classic Tournament is a well-run event at an excellent facility that drew capacity crowds on both nights. Since it was played at a college venue, three referees were employed and the entire event had a nice, big-time feel. This was the 32nd year of the event, which began at Southampton High School in 1977. It’s come a long way.
To close out, 2009, here’s a feel-good anecdote: When Bellport’s players learned that Tobias Harris had committed to Tennessee, they sent him a congratulations card, signed by everyone on the team, including head coach Peter Grossi. “My players think Tobias is a great kid and wish him the best,” Grossi said. His Clippers are the Colts’ toughest competition for the League IV title. In fact, Grossi reminded with a smirk, “We’re not backing down from anyone. Until we lose it, we are the defending league champions.”
Hills West is at Bellport on Jan. 25 and hosts the Clippers on Feb. 8.
A happy and health new year to everyone. Hope to see you at courtside in 2010. Stop by and say hello. I’m the guy in the sweater taking notes on a clipboard, sitting in a classroom chair next to the scorer’s table.