The Long Beach boys basketball team took down the Mepham Pirates for the second time this season on Tuesday afternoon, 51-32. The Marines (7-8 overall, 6-6) took a big step towards a chance to earn a playoff berth with the win over the Pirates (2-13 overall, 2-10), but still have work left to do, with some outside help from other conference opponents needed as well.
Joshua Trone was the game-high scorer with 11 points for Long Beach. Jeff Swanson led Mepham with nine points.
Like the first meeting between the two teams in January, Long Beach pulled out to a large lead in the first quarter over Mepham. The Marines limited the Pirates to just two field goals as they led 18-4 after eight minutes.
However, Mepham has proved to be no easy out this season. They began the second quarter on a 9-3 run to cut the lead to eight points. The Pirates’ offense seemed to stall again, putting up just one point in the final four minutes to go into halftime trailing 24-14.
Long Beach started the second half on an 8-1 run of their own, highlighted by a three-point play by Trone. Just like during the previous quarter, when Mepham fell behind big, they came right back at the Marines. The Pirates went on a 10-2 run to cut the lead to single digits, 34-25, but the third quarter wouldn’t end until the Marines fought back with five straight points.
Long Beach built on their momentum to extend their lead as the minutes winded down. Kyle Wechsler scored Mepham's first point of the fourth quarter just more than three minutes in. With the game in hand, bench players got the opportunity to rack up some minutes as the Marines closed out the 19-point win over the Pirates on their home court.
Heroes: Trone and Cedric Coad combined for 21 points in the game and served as the only two players to reach double digits. They had 10 field goals between them, equaling Mepham's total as a team.
“Although they hit some of their shots, we just out-rebounded them throughout the game,” Long Beach head coach T.J. Burke said. “Trone and Coad have been carrying a lot for us lately.”
Turning Point: After Daryl Brown knocked down a three pointer early in the fourth quarter, it seemed to take the wind out the Mepham comeback opportunity. After Mepham went on their 10-2 run in the third, Long Beach scored 17 of the game’s final 24 points and closed the game as strong as they opened it.
Quotable: “We turned the ball over too much. We had momentum at points and started to get back in it, but that hurt us and we couldn’t get back in all of the way,” Mepham head coach Rich Wojcieski said. “We had some guys working hard down below though like [Jordan] Gilroy and [Jeff] Swanson.”
Bottom Line: Both teams were coming off of wins -- Mepham over Valley Stream Central and Long Beach over Great Neck South -- but the Marines got the best of the Pirates for the second time this season and picked up an important Conference AA-III win to stay alive for a possible playoff spot.
Key Stat: As Wojcieski pointed out, turnovers have been a persistent problem for Mepham this season. They committed 17 turnovers compared to just nine for Long Beach.
Who’s Next? Feb. 10, Mepham at Carey, 4:30 p.m.; Feb. 11, Long Beach at Valley Stream Central, 6:15 p.m.Teams 1 2 3 4 F Mepham 4 10 11 7 32 Long Beach 18 6 15 12 51 Mepham Points Long Beach Points Swanson 9 Trone 11 Morrow 7 Coad 10 Gilroy 4 Rivera 6 Kaminsky 3 Cole 5 Wechsler 3 Teemer 4 Brennick 2 Whitfield 4 Gabartnick 2 Merritt 3 Waldron 2 Gordon 3 -- -- Brown 3 -- -- Rourke 2