Baldwin tops Floyd for LIC 'AA' crown
First, Baldwin's Brandon Williams, wide open on the right wing, called for the ball. No response. Williams, who moments earlier had given the Bruins a one-point lead on a pull-up jumper, then waved his arms to attract his teammates' attention. Still no response.
Finally, Williams began jumping up and down while also shouting and waving his arms.
This is a point guard who isn't shy about letting it be known that he wants the ball in crunch time.
Williams didn't get it on that sequence, though a teammate was fouled while dribbling. Initially, the officials signaled Baldwin ball under the basket. But Williams knew it was the seventh foul against Floyd and it was a one-and-one situation.
This is a point guard whose head (as well as his hands) is always in the game.
"His will to win, his determination, is amazing," Baldwin coach Darius Burton said after Williams (16 points, nine assists, six steals) led the Bruins to a 68-57 victory over Floyd Saturday in the Long Island Class AA / Southeast Regional final at Hofstra.
Nassau AA champion Baldwin (19-2) advanced to the state tournament in Glens Falls for the second time in school history and will play in the semifinals at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Suffolk AA champ Floyd finished 20-3.
Williams scored six points in the fourth quarter, including the first two and last two of a crucial 10-0 run, as Baldwin, which trailed 48-47 with 7:16 left, pulled away.
"I trust my teammates, but in that situation, I definitely wanted the ball in my hands," Williams said. "As a captain who's been on the varsity for three years, I knew what to do."
That included beating multiple Floyd defenders off the dribble and exploiting the advantageous foul situation by either getting to the line or finding open teammates for close-in shots. Rashid Lesane (19 points) and Kirk Staine (15 points) were primary beneficiaries.
Lesane scored on a putback during the 10-0 stretch and had Baldwin's only three baskets from beyond the three-point line, all in the first half. When a free throw and a basket by versatile Floyd guard Anthony White (20 points, 14 rebounds, six assists, two steals) made it 61-54 with 1:07 left, Staine (11 rebounds, six offensive) gave Baldwin some breathing room with a layup on a feed from Williams.
"White's a great player and he played a great game," Williams said. "But Kyle , Kirk and Rashid really wanted it."
That was evidenced by Baldwin's domination on the offensive boards, creating numerous second-chance points. "I just wanted to help out our bigs down there and limit their possessions," said Lesane, a 6-3 senior in his first year at Baldwin after transferring from Brooklyn Studio. "In the beginning of the season, I was a little shaky and so was my shot. But it got better. I got familiar with the plays and with the team and now I feel comfortable."
So do the Bruins, especially when the ball is in Williams' hands. "His decision-making down the stretch is uncanny," Burton said. "He takes over at the end of games."
As long as his teammates don't ignore him for too long. Then he gets a little, um, jumpy.