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Bears Tame Panthers with Late Run

December 8, 2015

The boys’ basketball team earned a hard-fought, 66-58 victory this afternoon in a non-league match-up with Babylon, last year’s Suffolk County Class B runner-up. The Bears jumped out an early lead, then allowed Babylon to go on a run of their own and take control of the game; but a late comeback helped the boys take down their second League VIII foe in a week and up their record to 3-0.

Babylon held an early 3-4 lead until the Bears ripped off 8 quick points in a row on a Luke O’Connor layup and back-to-back 3-pointers from Harry Zhu and Chester Kayonga, prompting a timeout from the Babylon coach. The physical Panthers battled back to take a 17-15 lead, but O’Connor drilled another 3-pointer to give him 10 points in the quarter and an 18-17 edge to the Brook after one period.

Babylon ramped up their defense in the second frame with a full court press. Their tenacity, coupled with poor passing from the Bears, allowed them to surge back into the lead. The Brook built a 25-19 lead after two free throws from Kayonga, but the Panthers closed the half on a 15-4 run to take a 34-29 advantage into the break.

After riding the bench in the first half with early foul trouble, Jyles Etienne began to emerge in the third quarter, scoring two buckets inside and registering two monster blocks. The Bears tied the game at 36-36 minutes into the second half when O’Connor scored an old fashioned 3-point play, but Babylon counter-punched with 6 straight points to retake a 42-36 lead, their largest of the game. Undeterred, the Bears reeled off 9 unanswered points on an Etienne layup, a Kayonga 3-point play, and buckets from Mac Bohuny and O’Connor to surge to a 45-42 edge. The Bears had possession with under 10 seconds left but Babylon converted a steal into a 3-point play that left game tied at 45-45 heading into the decisive quarter.

Babylon scored first in the frame, but a Kayonga steal led to an Emil Vaughn layup that knotted the score again. Babylon retook a two-point edge on the ensuing possession, but a quick 6-point spurt by the Bears gave them a lead they would never relinquish. Bohuny began the run with a baseline drive and a difficult reverse layup. Vaughn scored a layup on the ensuing possession off of a beautiful mid-air pass from Kayonga. On the next Panther possession Kayonga stole the ball again and converted a lefty layup for a 53-49 lead. Babylon would get within 1-point at 53-52, but 4 straight points by Brandon Providence stemmed their run. The back-breaker for Babylon came when Etienne skied for a rebound and putback to give the Bears a 61-54 lead with under two minutes left. Babylon could not connect from long range on their next two possessions and big defensive rebounds, coupled with 5-6 shooting from the free throw line in the final minutes ensured the Bears would survive the battle.

O’Connor scored a team-high 19 points, while Kayonga shouldered much of the load with 17. From there the scoring was balanced, a testament to this team’s depth: Etienne (7), Bohuny (6), Providence (6), Zhu (4), Vaughn (4), James Toney (2), and John Eshirow (1).

The victory was the Bears’ first over Babylon since December 3, 2010, a 48-47 overtime thriller. The win also evened coach Mike Hickey’s all-time record vs. Babylon at 6-6 and upped his overall record to 297-184.

The Bears will take the floor again tomorrow at home against Denmark’s Hjemly at 4:30pm.

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