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Shrikes Send Seniors Out with a Bang

January 30, 2016

On an electric “Throwback Night” in Swanson Gymnasium, the boys’ basketball team handed cross-town rival Port Jeff a 78-43 defeat in the last Friday night home game for Luke O’Connor, Chester Kayonga, and Rob Sparacio. It was also a night honoring coach Thom Brownworth who has served the basketball program for over 40 years. In homage to Coach Brownworth, the boys laid down the Bear moniker for the first time since 1987 and adopted the “Shrikes” name once again.

The last time the Bears and Royals met was on Jan. 7th in the first game following the Christmas break. The nearly 3 week layoff showed as Port Jeff pushed the then undefeated Bears to the brink before Brandon Providence made some clutch plays down the stretch to help pull out a 54-45 win. In the early-going, it appeared the packed stands were in for another fight.

After a ceremony honoring the senior trio, the Royals scored the first 4 points of the game and and corralled 3 offensive rebounds in the process. After missing 3-pointers on their first two possessions, the Shrikes reeled off a 9-0 run to take a lead they would never relinquish. A layup from Mac Bohuny and a dunk from Jyles Etienne knotted the game at 4-4. Bohuny scored another layup and Kayonga splashed a 3-pointer to put an exclamation point on the spurt and give the Brook a 9-4 edge. With under a minute left, the Royals drilled a 3-pointer to move within 15-10, but a trifecta from Bohuny in the closing seconds gave the blue and white an 18-10 advantage after the first.

Port Jeff, undeterred by the momentum shift, scored the first 4 points of the quarter and continued to cause problems for the Shrikes on the offensive boards. The blue and white responded with a 12-0 spurt during which Harry Zhu scored 7 points on two layups and a 3-pointer. A late 3-pointer from O’Connor gave the Brook a 37-19 advantage before the Royals hit a deep two-pointer at the buzzer to go into the half down 37-21.

At the half, Thom Brownworth, who is retiring at the end of the year after nearly five decades of serving Stony Brook, was honored for his many contributions to the basketball program. Brownworth was the head coach of the Shrikes from 1974-1989, during which he won 92 games, the third-most wins in program history. In his first season, his boys won the league championship with a 15-2 record. After his head coaching career ended, Brownworth faithfully served as coach Mike Hickey’s assistant for over 20 years, selflessly devoting his time to taking meticulous stats for the team. Much of the program’s success over the years is due to his faithfulness.

The Shrikes came out of the break on fire, canning five of their thirteen 3-pointers in the third quarter alone. Zhu connected from deep on the Shrikes first two possessions and hit a third later in the quarter. O’Connor hit a three in the frame and Providence closed the quarter with a trifecta of his own to leave the Bears up 58-30 with one quarter to play.

Four more 3-pointers rained down for the Shrikes in the fourth quarter as “Yikes Shrikes” cheers filled Swanson for the first time in nearly 30 years. Kayonga hit two from deep and O’Connor added another, but the highlight of the quarter senior Rob Sparacio’s 3-pointer from the left corner that brought the crowd to its feet. The second team played well in the closing minutes to solidify the Bears’ 35-point victory.

O’Connor led all scorers with 17 points while Zhu connected on four 3-pointers to finish with 16. Bohuny (10), Kayonga (9), Etienne (9), John Eshirow (6), Sparacio (5), Providence (3), Louis Wang (2), and James Toney (1) rounded out the scoring.

With the victory the Shrikes improve to 12-2 on the season and 9-0 in League VIII and clinch the #1 seed in the Suffolk County Class C playoffs. The blue and white have won 5 straight games against the Royals.

The Shrikes take the floor again on Saturday afternoon vs. Shelter Island.



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