Long Beach didn’t get to revel in the thrill of victory on the basketball court as many times as it would have liked over the past few seasons. However, hard work, patience, and a bit more varsity experience have the Marines in a far better place in 2017-18.
While the team’s 3-6 record is a little disappointing, wins and losses don’t tell the whole story. Long Beach is clearly a team on the rise. After an 80-69 road victory over Mepham, the Marines improved to 1-1 in what appears to be a wide-open Nassau Conference AA/A-III.
Junior point guard Lashawn Hankins scored 20 points, two short of his career high and dished out five assists, and Gerard Burns scored 18 points and pulled down 10 rebounds to lead the Marines. Michael Proios led the Pirates with a career-high 19 points.
Head coach Scott Martin believes his team is heading down the path to success. “We’re still a young team in a lot of ways, but we’re playing well against good teams,” Martin said. “The guys are still learning to play with one another. We’re getting more comfortable running the break and we’re communicating better. Everyone is chipping in. The guys love to play the game and practice real hard.”
Burns has been a huge addition to the lineup for the Marines. The versatile junior is averaging a team-high 16.2 points per game in his first year with the team. Burns has a knack for beating his man off the dribble and taking it to the rack, can score in the post, and hits the boards real hard.
Hankins, who picked up All-Conference honors as a sophomore, is averaging 11.4 points per contest and leads the team in assists. Long Beach was without Hankins when the team gave perennial-power Valley Stream South all it could handle before falling 79-71. The Marines led by three points after three quarters.
Senior Matteo Camarda was one of the reasons why Long Beach was able to stay in the game with the Falcons. Camarda, a player whose ability to play multiple positions gives Martin more flexibility, hit four three-pointers on his way to a career-high 16 points. Martin is impressed with Camarda’s leadership skills and the intangibles he brings to the floor.
Senior forward Tristan Groh (8.7 ppg) has hit for double figures on four occasions, scoring 11 in the loss to South and going off for 16 in a 79-59 win over visiting East Meadow. Burns scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the game while Hankins, Jevonte Neals, and Joe O’Donohue all scored 10 points. Sophomore Evan Michaels has played well, averaging 6.6 points per game.
“I really believe that it’s anyone’s league,” Martin said. “We lost a few games that I’d like to have back, but we’re trending in the right direction.”
The Marines welcome in Calhoun this Friday for a 5 p.m. tipoff.