Ward Melville just couldn't take control of the game against Longwood on Tuesday, falling 89-35. On offense, the Lions' shots kept falling, while the Patriots' offense didn't have the ball long enough to create scoring opportunities.
Heroes: One thing Ward Melville can be proud about is toughness, especially inside the paint. The Patriots stood tall and charged the hoop at every chance without allowing the score to weigh them down. Tyler Hegarty led the team in scoring with 9 points, mostly coming from strength under the hoop. Opening up some scoring for the Patriots in the first half, Jesse Smith scored 8 points with two threes off the bench.
Turning Point: The game started off with a three-pointer from the Lions, and once Ward Melville had possession, Longwood laid the pressure on thick. The Patriots were forced to call timeouts and turn over long passes because of how little movement the Lions' full court press allowed. On occasion, the Patriots found some room for pull-up jumpers, but scored most of their points from determined drives down the center lane. The second half seemed to start off in stable fashion, but that didn't last as the Lions brought steal after steal the other way for easy fast-break points.
Quotable: "We expected them to be this good, there's a reason they rank so high in Long Island. They had a clear control of the tempo where we weren't able to set the pace much at all. They were hitting their shots and somehow put a lid on the basket for us. The turnovers were huge; they decided our spacing and forced long passes that we tried to telegraph. Handling pressure, giving good spacing, and simple execution are our main issues to work on." –Ward Melville head coach Jesse Smith
Bottom Line: The Lions are known as one of the top teams on Long Island. Last year they went to the Suffolk County Class AA finals, and much of that team has returned seeming determined to get even farther. The key factor was the sense of control that Longwood put on Ward Melville. The Patriots needed Longwood to make a mistake. Any team that isn't allowed to move the ball over half court is going to become frustrated, and for the Patriots that frustration opened poor passing and a rushed offense. But the Patriots will see this Longwood team again, and they're going to have looks at William Floyd and Brentwood along the way.
Who's Next? Winless Ward Melville (0-2, 0-2) faces Lindenhurst (0-2, 2-4) on Friday, Jan. 7 at 6 p.m.