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Westhampton vs North Babylon 12/16/97
Westhampton 78 North Babylon 51

Dale Menendez walked off the North Babylon gym floor last night with a look of satisfaction. The senior point guard had just helped Westhampton dismantle its first League IV boys basketball opponent - and a worthy one at that - in the opener for both teams.
Menendez finished with 14 points, 8 assists and 5 steals as Westhampton lived up to its nickname - the Hurricanes - in blowing away North Babylon, 78-51, before a packed house of 600.
"It's just the first stop on a long road," Menendez said. "We made a statement, that we want to win every game this year - and not lose the last one."
Forward Bronson Martin, who scored 21 points, opened the game with a long three-pointer and six players scored in the first 3:21 as Westhampton took a 14-0 lead. The Hurricanes scored three of their first five baskets on offensive rebounds and used a suffocating defense to force four early turnovers.
"I thought we were prepared for the game," North Babylon coach Jack Loth said. "What we saw was a veteran team against a very young team. And their defense did a nice job."
While North Babylon continues to search for the right mix, it looked like the Hurricanes were in midseason form. Menendez did a wonderful job distributing the ball and center Jermaine Hollman (12 points) was unstoppable in the paint.
"We boxed them out and didn't allow any second chances," Hollman said. "They have extreme athletes and they can jump out of the building. We never took the pressure off and forced them into some poor shots."
Westhampton (3-0 overall) used a half-court press and an up-tempo offense to create wide-open shots. The Hurricanes led 19-5 after the first quarter as forward Dwayne Sanders and guard Jeremy Liggon had four points apiece.
"We create off the defensive pressure," Westhampton coach Rich Wrase said. "Our defense is the key."
It was more of the same in the second quarter as North Babylon (0-3) forced passes and double-clutched on open shots. The Bulldogs fell behind 36-14 at the half after Menendez made a steal and a driving layup before time expired.
"We executed really well and shot the ball well," Menendez said. "It was a team effort - everyone contributed."
The cohesiveness Wrase wanted early in the season from his Hurricanes is there. Menendez was hitting on all cylinders in transition and his forwards were knocking down the 8and 10-foot jump shots. North Babylon never made a serious run throughout the second half.
"It was one of those games where you fall behind by so much and then you start doing all the wrong things to try and catch up," North Babylon's Barry Baker said. "We're a young team and we're only going to get better as the season goes along. We came apart defensively and we turned the ball over too much."
North Babylon started three juniors and two sophomores against the veteran-oriented Hurricanes, who had four seniors in the lineup. Jonelle Jones led the Bulldogs with 22 points.
Westhampton reached the Suffolk Class B final last year, where it lost in the final seconds to Amityville.
"That was a tough loss and it gives us something to work toward this year," Menendez said. "Our goal is to win every game and then win the county title."
Westhampton is on its way. Just ask North Babylon.

Box Score
TeamFirst QTSecond QTThird QTFouth QTTotal
Westhampton1917231978
North Babylon59191851
Westhampton: Hollman 5-2-12, Menendez 7-0-14, Ford 1-2-4, Ritchie 5-0-11, Martin 8-1-21, Sanders 5-0-10, Liggon 1-2-4, Ferrari 1-0-2. Total: 33-7-78.
North Babylon: Baker 4-0-9, Toney 1-0-3, Jones 9-3-22, Washington 1-3-5, Hodgson 1-0-2, Slater 1-0-3, Simmons 2-0-4, Gubitosi 1-0-3. Total: 20-6-51.
Three-point goals: Westhampton 5 (Martin 4, Ritchie); North Babylon 5 (Baker, Toney, Jones, Slater, Gubitosi).


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