March 12, 2013 | 478 views
Bruins rallied around injured teammate
Baldwin didn’t return a single starter from last season’s Long Island Class AA boys’ basketball championship team, but its strength-in-numbers, unselfishness and relentless defense led it to a second straight Nassau title, marking the first back-to-back county crowns in school history.
Yet the Bruins were considered underdogs in last Saturday night’s L.I. Class AA title game at Hofstra against Suffolk representative Northport, which featured 6-foot-9 center Luke Petrasek and standout point guard Matt Smith. Baldwin’s task was greatly compromised less than two minutes after the opening tip when its most experienced player, senior forward Jordan Williams, went down under the Tigers’ basket after a driving layup attempt.
Baldwin’s top reserve last season and its biggest frontcourt presence this season, Williams suffered a dislocated kneecap and torn ligament, and after a 25-minute delay was taken by ambulance to Nassau University Medial Center in East Meadow. It was a devastating blow, but if any team was prepared to handle such a loss it was coach Darius Burton’s.
“I was distraught myself and concerned with how the kids were going to deal with it mentally more than anything else,” Burton said. “You never know how a team is going to handle adversity, but these kids believed in themselves and each other.”
Teams were given a three-minute warmup period before play resumed with 6:21 remaining in the first quarter, and the depth of the Bruins showed immediately. They were never out of a game they lost, 43-40, essentially on Northport’s Mike Milligan’s three-point play with 52 seconds left.
Junior Dan Nwalor replaced Williams, who averaged 10 points and 10 rebounds per game, and promptly sank a pair of free throws for the team’s first points. Nwalor also knocked down a field goal midway through the quarter as part of a 14-point opening half for Burton’s bench. Junior MiKing Richardson had six points off the bench and