It’s a little like Bezos hitting the Lotto.
When reigning AA-II champion Baldwin welcomed senior transfer Tavin Pierre-Philippe to its hoops squad, the already high-octane Bruins became supercharged – putting all of AA on immediate notice by rolling to a brace of summer-league titles.
Leading all AA scorers with 25 points per game – many via his conference-best 21 3-pointers – Pierre-Philippe has joined senior All-County point guard Rhyjon Blackwell (16.9 ppg) and a deep cast of Nassau-finalist returners to rocket Baldwin to a 7-0 start, 3-0 in league. The blast out of the gate has left few unbelievers of the hype that had built around the club this preseason.
“We were expected to win, and we know we can if we execute,” head coach Darius Burton said. “We accomplished our goal of getting to New Year’s undefeated. Now we have to get better every game. Tavin and Rhyjon have made it easier for us, and easier for each other. They’re both unselfish and they know they can live off each other.”
In an 82-47 conference romp at East Meadow on Jan. 3, Pierre-Philippe scored a game-high 30 points – two shy of his season-best mark – while the Bruins recorded their soundest win since a season-opening 95-51 rout of Pine Bush.
“Tavin’s a great addition,” Burton said of his new power forward out of Christ the King in Queens. “He’s very coachable. He’ll score inside or out. His unselfishness makes people around him better. As a team, all our guys are doing their job.”
Baldwin is scoring 79.4 points a game – outstripping its league foes in aggregate by almost 24 points – while winning by a margin of 24.8. The Bruins have tallied at least 82 points in over half of their outings (four times), while no other AA-II team – besides East Meadow, which had 82 against Roslyn, and 80 versus Valley Stream South – has eclipsed 76.
The Bruins’ toughest test may come hosting Hicksville (3-1 in league, 6-5 overall) on Jan. 9, when Baldwin’s league-leading offense encounters AA-II’s best defense (47 ppg). The Comets have yet to allow more than 60 in a game.
“It’s the game for first place in the conference,” Burton said. “I expect to see a lot of zone defense from [Hicksville] and from now on throughout the conference. We’ve been good on the perimeter. People are finding out we can really shoot. Whatever we see, we’ll be ready.”
As if an embarrassment of riches weren’t enough, 6-foot-6 All-Conference center Tre Riggins is set to return from a game-one injury in time to face Hicksville on Wednesday after press time. Throughout the senior big man’s absence, Baldwin has used a tandem to hold the middle, with 6-3 junior forward Isiah Walker (team-best 8.7 rebounds) and 6-6 senior center Marcus Jasmin proving equal to the task.
“We’re a deep team; many guys have stepped up,” Burton said. “We’ve stayed focused on one game at a time. If we can keep winning, our next goal is to be that number one seed in the playoffs.”