With two starters benched in the opening minutes of last Friday night’s game at Port Washington for arriving late to pregame, the Baldwin boys’ basketball team overcame an early 12-0 deficit before rallying for a 58-55 win over the Vikings to put a stranglehold on first place in the Conference AA-2 standings.
Jaylen Brown tied his career high with 20 points, including five clutch free throws in the final minute, and fellow senior Dylan Madden added a varsity-best 17 points for the defending Long Island Class AA champions, who swept the season series with Port to improve to 9-0 in conference play and 14-1 overall despite having just three players back from last year’s squad.
“If anybody told me at this point we’d be 14-1 and 9-0, I’d say no way,” Baldwin head coach Darius Burton said. “This team has really shown me a lot.”
The Vikings (10-5, 6-3) dropped into a second-place tie with Plainview and East Meadow in the division.
The makeshift lineup was noticeable when Port Washington scored the first 10 points of the game in just under two minutes to send its home crowd into a Frenzy. The Vikings pushed their lead to 12 with 4:17 left in the first before Baldwin finally scored its first points on Joshua Petion’s bucket with 2:30 remaining.
“Rules are rules,” Burton said. “You have to be there on time. No one person is bigger than the program and we had to adjust, unfortunately, on the fly. We went smaller to start, and it was a hostile environment. Port Washington came ready to play.”
Baldwin finally settled down and outscored Port 16-4 in the second quarter and took its first lead with 1:40 left on Madden’s long trey from the top of the arc. Madden’s two free throws 15 seconds later and Petion’s foul shot in the final minute pushed the Bruins’ lead to 22-18 at intermission.
The Bruins led by 15 with just over four minutes left in the game before the Vikings put forth a fierce rally behind Trevor Amalfitano, who spearheaded a 13-1 run with three 3-pointers to cut the deficit to 53-50 with just over a minute left. Brown converted two free throws with 43.6 seconds left, but Camren Welker drilled another 3-pointer for Port with 20.7 seconds remaining.
Brown hit two more foul shots four seconds later and – after Welker converted a layup – made another with 1.4 seconds left to ice what Burton felt was one of the biggest wins of the season.
“I have to say it’s definitely up there,” he said. “Port is a great team. Due to the circumstances of things that happened, I’m very proud of the final result.”
The first meeting between the schools on Dec. 17 was close throughout before Baldwin emerged with a 47-41 win. The Bruins’ only defeat was against Cardozo (Queens) on Jan. 8.
Petition and emerging eighth-grader Peyton Howell had eight points apiece, sophomore Chase Timerlake added five, and sophomore Jalen Waters had a strong defensive game with multiple steals.