Somers’ coach Chris DiCintio knew Monday’s home game against Lakeland could easily decide the direction the Tuskers’ season was headed.
Somers, who graduated the leading scorer in the section last season, John Decker, entered the game 1-3 and in need of a win.
A strong fourth-quarter effort got them one as the Tuskers beat the Hornets 64-60.
“As coaches we know that that type of game can easy deflate a season,” DiCintio said “I thought the kids showed a tremendous amount of character and answered the bell from the opening tip.”
Matthew Moros led Somers with 25 points while Conor Cousin added 18 points. Moros, who was the team’s second-leading scorer last season, and Cousin will look to fill the scoring void left by Decker, according to DiCintio.
Lakeland (3-3) led 44-39 heading into the fourth quarter before a concerted effort on defense by the Tuskers (2-3) helped them outscore the Hornets 25-16 in the final quarter. DiCintio said associate head coach Darryl Atkinson and volunteer assistant Jim Harter have greatly improved the team’s man-to-man defense this season.
“Your best offense is always going to be created off a solid defensive effort,” DiCintio said. “The ball seems to find the bucket a little more than when you are stagnant on defense.”
Josh Riger (eights points) and Steven Danko (four points) came up big down the stretch for the Tuskers. Riger hit a jumper with three minutes remaining to push Somers’ lead to seven. Danko came off the bench late in the game to go 4-for-4 from the free-throw line.
“We stress to our team that basketball is not a sprint; it’s a marathon,” DiCintio said. “You’re got to stick with it.”
Jack Harrison led Lakeland with 18 points. Teammate Mike Morelli added 13 points.
Best of the rest: Kevin Degnan had a game-high 16 points in Pearl River’s 72-40 win at North Rockland. Teammate Tom Armour added 13 points. Evly Davis led the Red Raiders with 10 points.
Somers 64, Lakeland 60
Pearl River 72, North Rockland 40
Xavier 55, Salesian 39
Archbishop Molloy 86, Iona Prep 60
Kennedy 75, McClancy 60