More of the same – that’s what Tuesday’s Suffolk Class AA boys basketball championship brought.
The Thunderbirds of Half Hollow Hills High School East won their 14th straight game this season, a 74-52 triumph of second-seeded Deer Park, to claim their second-straight county title.
And it was a couple of familiar faces that led the charge.
All-star guards Savion Lewis and Julien Crittendon collectively poured on 65 of Hills East’s points to send the Thunderbirds to their second appearance in Long Island’s championship game in the past two years.
“They’re playing so well together,” head coach Peter Basel said Wednesday. “They just thrive off each other. Together, they’ve been unstoppable.
The duo, which has taken to the court together since fifth grade, collectively averaged close to 60 points per game through Hills East’s three-game sprint through Suffolk’s AA bracket.
Lewis, who is Long Island’s leading scorer this season, produced 40 points against Deer Park. He also had four assists.
“You can’t guard Savion driving to the hoop,” Basel said.
Crittendon, meanwhile, accounted for 25 points against Deer Park (20-3), including four three pointers. “If you give him any daylight to catch and shoot he just has great rhythm so the chances of it going in are just really high,” Basel said.
The offensive threats mixed in with stout defensive play – Hills East held a potent Deer Park offense to its least productive night of the season – was a recipe for success.
While their season-long performance has led to yet another county title, the Thunderbirds (21-2) ambitions are far from satisfied as the heartbreak of last season’s Long Island championship game, which Hills East lost by one point, looms.
“It’s not easy getting back – it’s been a long journey,” Basel said. “But we’ve put ourselves in the position of getting back. Now let’s win it this year.”
First, the Thunderbirds will square off against Suffolk’s small school champion, Amityville, at Farmingdale State College on Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Regardless of the outcome of that game, Hills East will advance to the Long Island championship, which is slated for 8:30 p.m., March 10, also at Farmingdale.
They’ll take on Nassau’s champion – either top-ranked Uniondale (19-1) or second-seeded Baldwin (15-3).