It took Elmont a little time to find itself, but after a slow start to the 2012-13 boys’ basketball season, the Spartans are starting to morph into a team that hopes to be a threat come playoff time.
After last Friday afternoon’s 52-50 victory at Long Beach, the Spartans are 5-2 in Nassau Conference AA-III, 5-3 overall. Senior Timmy Lewis led Elmont, which trailed by 10 points in the opening quarter, with 21 points. Long Beach’s Tyquan Scott poured in 22 to lead all scorers.
Head coach George Holub was happy to get away with the win. “Long Beach played a tough zone against us, and it gave us problems,” Holub said. “This conference is all about matchups. We didn’t have answers for their big guys, and they did a good job at shutting down the lanes. Timmy Lewis and Marc Campbell really picked us up, and applying a little more defensive pressure made a difference.”
Long Beach, which fell to 2-4 in conference play, got off to a terrific start, running out to a 17-7 lead after one quarter. Scott and 6-foot-6 junior Tariq Cole were a handful for the guard-heavy Spartans.
Elmont picked up the intensity on defense in the second quarter, got itself back in the game, and seemed to gain momentum. The Marines held a 28-22 lead at the break.
Long Beach coach T.J. Burke liked the way his team was playing. “We knew coming in that playing man-to-man against them would be a bad idea,” Burke said. “We packed it in pretty good, and hoped that they wouldn’t get hot from the perimeter. I thought we did a nice job on defense, and, for the most part, we handled the pressure pretty well.”
Led by Lewis and Campbell, the Spartans got tough on the offensive glass, and took the lead in the third quarter. It was anyone’s game as the teams took the floor for the final eight minutes with Elmont holding a narrow 40-38 lead.
Twice the Spartans took four-point leads and appeared to be set to pull away, but each time the Marines fought back. However, Long Beach, despite having numerous opportunities, couldn’t catch a break, and couldn’t capitalize down the stretch. Campbell finished with nine points for the Spartans. Cole added 13 for Long Beach.
Holub knows that his team needs to get better on defense if its going to have a successful second half of the season. “Look at the boxscores, we’re giving up way too many points,” Holub said. “It’s very uncharacteristic for us to consistently allow teams to score in the 50s and 60s. It’s tough. It seems like every team has three or four pretty solid players that can beat you. We have to pick up our intensity on defense and continue to get better.”
The Spartans travel to Calhoun this Friday at 6:30 p.m. with revenge in mind. The Colts beat Elmont 68-62 when the teams met last month.