After another three wins this past week, the Bellport Clippers have assured at least a tie in the League IV championship, being crowned for the second straight year.
Bellport began their week visiting Newfield, where they got an 80-57 victory. Jarell White had his second 40-point game of the season, nailing 41 points and 14 rebounds. Jaylen Trent had 15 points with three 3s made. Lorenz Aikens and Jaihad Robinson had seven points each. Mike Alvarado, Kyle Climan and Devon Balfour combined for 10 points.
They then faced Smithtown East, where they got an 88-45 victory. The Clippers used the first half to set the tone and the pace, outscoring their opponent 46-20. White led all scorers with 29 points and 10 rebounds. Climan had 10 points and two rebounds. Balfour did a little bit of everything, with six points, four boards and eight takeaways. Andrew Veit had seven points, three steals, five assists and six rebounds. Donald Henderson, Alvarado, Aikens and Stewart combined for 19 points and 11 rebounds. Robinson also did a little bit of everything on the court, with 10 points, six assists and six rebounds.
At this point, the Clippers had 10 straight victories, and had one more obstacle in their path: Deer Park. It’s been proven to be a hostile environment and a very loud gym. Last year the Clippers brought their undefeated streak into Deer Park, where they lost. This time around, it was a different story.
The Clippers defeated the Falcons 84-63, for their 11th consecutive win and clinching their second straight league title. From the moment the ball tipped, everyone in attendance was in for a ride. Bellport set the tone from the opening tip; the Falcons believed they had an easy basket, but White was there for a block, showing that this time around, things would be different. It was a three-point game after one. In the second quarter, Bellport had a two-point lead, but quick buckets from Trent and a good defensive stop gave them one last shot; Rell made a layup for a six-point lead and the momentum at the half. The Clippers used a 12-4 run to start the third quarter and build a 17-point lead after three.
White led all scorers with 36 points, 21 boards and five assists. Aikens had 14 points and three assists. Trent had nine points, three steals, three assists and five rebounds. Balfour had 13 points, 13 boards, two assists and five steals. Alvarado added three points, three assists and three steals.
“It feels good — that’s what we wanted to do from the first game and we wanted to get past this last team,” said Aikens.
The Clippers remembered what happened last year, when they lost 73-58, and decided to change the script this time around. “We didn’t play to our ability last year; we worked hard for this, we go out there and play our game,” said Balfour. White took those two losses last year personally, and responded by averaging 39 points in the two games this year.
“We kept talking about our loss last year. We wanted to go hard and send a message,” added White.
The Clippers ensured a Top 4 seed, thus earning them two home playoff games. “We’re locked in, we’re going to play defense,” said Aikens. “I thank the man above for giving us two home games,” added Balfour.
Lastly, Coach Watkins highlighted the impact of the students and the polls. A lot of polls considered the Clippers overrated after a loss at Center Moriches. Bellport responded well, winning 11 consecutive games and the league title.
Bellport (18-2, 16-1 in conference) will have their annual senior game today when they face West Islip at Randy Smith Basketball Court at 5:45 p.m.