With a score of twenty six a piece heading into halftime, disappointment unrolled all over Syosset Braves head coach Bobby Kopp's face. He was visibly disappointed with the effort his team displayed in the first half against Plainview, and he made no effort in hiding it.
Syosset, who entered today’s contest with a record of 0-1 after losing on Monday to Valley Stream South 71-55, needed to find a way to secure the season’s first victory.
“I was just really disappointed with our first half effort,” Kopp said. “I thought coming into the game after a loss we would be more up for it. I felt we came out flat.”
Things changed very quickly for Kopp’s team, as the Braves came out with great intensity in the second half of the game. Senior guard Nick Albernas drained one of his three three pointers to open the second half. Seconds later, Senior guard Jake Canner (7 points) came up with a steal and turned the play into two points for Syosset a 31-26 lead. Syosset, from that point on, never trailed Plainview again. The Braves appeared to have regained their swagger.
Syosset’s defense significantly improved in the second half of the game, as the Braves' defense forced multiple turnovers that led to offensive conversions. Among these, include Canner's (or as Newsday would say, Conner's) reverse layup while being fouled. This defensive play put the momentum in the hands of the Braves.
Kopp noted the enthusiasm his squad came out with after the half, and credits the change with the victory.
“I thought we came out with a lot more energy,” Kopp said. “We were able to get out and run and that is one of our strengths.”
Albernas kept the Braves afloat in the first half, and put Plainview away in the second. His shooting was spot on throughout the entire game, finishing with an astounding twenty points. He credits his supporting cast for providing with the opportunity to score.
“Jake Canner and Jake Laine deserve so much credit,” Albernas said. “They both did a great job kicking the ball out and getting it up fast up the wings to give me some open shots.”
After the game Kopp said he was proud of Albernas’ shot selection.
“Nick has the green light to shoot,” Kopp said. “When we get into transition and our big’s are running the middle he is able to get wide open looks in transition and that is what we want.”
Albernas was able to play efficiently tonight, taking advantage of the plays that were drawn up for him by Kopp.
“We ran a play a called ‘23’ for him,” Kopp said. “That play was strictly for him after a double set screen he came to the top of the key and knocked it down and he ended up having twenty points and playing really well for us.”
At the end of three quarters of play, Syosset led Plainview 44-35, and though Plainview would continue to play tough, the Braves defense was too much to handle for the Jayhawks.
Syosset outscored Plainview 12-11 in the final quarter to go on to defeat Plainview by a final of 56-46.
After the game, Senior forward Jake Laine spoke about the play of Albernas.
“We had a lot of different looks designed for Nick,” Laine said. “We needed to get him going, and when he did, he was able to make the difference.”
Laine, who finished with nine points, was happy about his communication with his co-captain, and point guard, Jake Canner.
“We had to really find space out there,” Laine said. “We had to be able to successfully run the pick and roll because when we can get the ball inside we can create opportunities for Nick (Albernas) or dribble drive and get easy baskets.”
Though the game didn’t start out the way Kopp envisioned it, he was pleased with the way his players responded in the second half.
“In the second half, we showed we were the better team.” Kopp said.
Syosset (1-1) will host the Port Washington Vikings on Monday afternoon at 6:15 for a non league matchup. This game is expected to draw one of the largest crowds in Syosset High School’s history, as the community looks to support the potential-filled Braves.