For the first two minutes and 30 seconds of Saturday night’s boys’ basketball game, Swanson Gymnasium was eerily silent.
Chester Kayonga drilled a 3-pointer on the opening possession, Jyles Etienne followed with a layup, and Harry Zhu knocked down a trifecta of his own to give the Brook an 8-0 lead in the blink of an eye, yet the packed stands remained muted.
Then, Luke O’Connor drove to the basket and scored a tough floater between three Rocky Point defenders, eliciting a thunderous eruption from the Blue Fan Group. The Eagles, visibly rattled by the sudden roar, quickly turned the ball over on the ensuing possession. Why the sudden burst of noise? The Blue Fan Group had executed a “Silent Night” crowd antic that originated at Taylor University in the 1980s. In their final home basketball game before the Christmas break, the Taylor students remain deathly silent until Taylor scores its 10th point. Then, the entire gym explodes and the game is actually delayed as the crowd pours onto the court. On Saturday night, the Blue Fan Group, decked out in Santa hats, ugly Christmas sweaters, and reindeer antlers, executed the same maneuver. While our “Silent Night” was on a much smaller scale, it still drew praise from the originators at Taylor University who viewed the video on Twitter:
The electric atmosphere helped the Bears jump out to a 12-1 lead on the way to a 20-10 edge after a quarter. The roof nearly came off near the end of the opening frame when Etienne threw down a monster one-handed jam in traffic. The basket was waved off due to an offensive foul away from the ball, but the Blue Fan Group didn’t seem to mind as they roared their approval. The Eagles bounced back in the second quarter thanks to some hot shooting from behind the arc and a few key fouls on several Stony Brook starters. Rocky Point got within five points midway through the frame, but some timely shots by Kayonga and back-to-back buckets by John Eshirow helped the Brook take a 36-27 lead into the break.
In the third period, O’Connor caught fire, scoring 15 of his team-high 18 points over that span. The Eagles’ Harry Lynch was a handful in the third, scoring on a variety of outside shots and difficult drives, but O’Connor’s lefty stroke stemmed Rocky Point’s comeback bid and helped the Bears extend their lead by eight heading into the final quarter.
In the fourth, the starters were able to rest a bit thanks to quality minutes from Eshirow, Brandon Providence, James Toney, Emil Vaughn, Louis Wang, and Rob Sparacio. The Blue and White did not let up until the final whistle, taking down their Class A opponents, 76-60. O’Connor finished with 18 points on three 3-pointers and some impressive drives to the basket. Kayonga connected on five 3-pointers as part of his 17 points. Zhu hit two of the Bears’ ten 3-pointers and finished with 14 points while Etienne finished with 10 on some beautiful moves inside. Mac Bohuny (4 points), Eshirow (4), Toney (4), Providence (3), and Vaughn (2) rounded out the scoring.
With the win, the Bears improve to 2-0 while coach Mike Hickey levels his all-time record against Rocky Point at 1-1. He also moves within four wins of the 300-win milestone with an all-time record of 296-184.
The Bears will take the floor again at home on Tuesday vs. Class B Babylon @ 4:30pm.