It’s one thing to talk about everything that went wrong in the first half and how to correct those mistakes. It’s another to act on it. And after trailing by seven points at halftime, players such as Taliq Abdul-Rahim, Noah Shy and John Alimo reminded those in attendance why Valley Stream North isn’t a team to take lightly.
“We knew in the second half we had to play together,” Abdul-Rahim said. “The first half, we were playing individually.”
Valley Stream North used a 45-point second half to defeat host Glen Cove, 70-57, in its Nassau A-III boys basketball opener on Monday night. After trailing 32-25 at halftime, the Spartans utilized better ball movement and pressure defense to change the game.
“We’re not like this team,” Shy said, referring to the performance that led to the deficit. “We don’t usually go down. We try to stay up. First half, we try to come out strong, but we need to get better at it. We’ll get better at practice and we won’t come out weak. We’ll come out strong.”
Shy backed up his words with 19 points, four assists and four steals.
After scoring only one point in the first half and being challenged by his coach, John Alimo finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds.
“I said, ‘Listen, we need more out of you,’ and the kid stepped up,” coach Dan Achatz said. “He was a beast out there. On the boards, hitting big shots, going to the basket, making his free throws. That’s what I expect out of him. He’s that good.”
Alimo, who at 6-1 rarely is the biggest player on the court, is very talented at getting position and takes pride in creating second-chance points.
“It’s huge,” he said. “It helps us a lot, especially when it’s a miss and the ball comes off and it’s a second opportunity.”
The Spartans (5-1) opened the second half on a 14-2 run, with Abdul-Rahim leading the way with his shooting, ball distribution and defense. He finished with 17 points, four rebounds, five assists and six steals and shot 7-for-9 from the foul line in the second half.
For him, it’s distributing the ball at point guard that’s most fun. “I just try to get people the ball when they need it so they can make shots,” he said. “I trust in my teammates that they can shoot the ball and get fouls.”
Omar Baxter added 13 points and nine rebounds and Shamari Griffith, despite foul trouble, had seven rebounds.
Neri Romero led Glen Cove (5-1) with 19 points and Jared Jackson added 17.
After making it to the Class A semifinals last year, the Spartans believe they can go further this season. “People sleep on us,” Shy said. “So this year, we’re going to make a statement and go after everybody.”