You can excuse the Lynbrook varsity boys basketball team for getting off to a slow start on Saturday in its first game of the season. After all, five key members of the basketball team were playing football as recently as last weekend, when they helped their team to a .
The Owls did show some rust in the 1st quarter against Clarke High School (East Meadow), falling behind, 4-0, in the early minutes. It was three minutes into the game before Lynbrook scored, but when it did, the Owls began a 12-1 run en route to a 54-42 victory.
Michael McVeigh scored nine points and John Emmerich had eight points and four rebounds to lead the Owls, who were a playoff team a year ago. Zach Sobel added six points and five rebounds.
Afterward, Lynbrook coach Chris Rube said that while he understood the Owls might not be in their offensive rhythm right away -- considering football just ended -- he thought their defense could have been better.
"Our defense has to be there for us every night. I don't think it was there for us in the first half," Rube said. "We have to be able to score points off of our defense."
Rube acknowleged that the defense stepped up in the 3rd quarter when it held Clarke to just six points, forced several turnovers, and turned a 25-15 halftime lead into an insurmountable 43-21 cushion after three quarters.
"The defense picked it up in the 3rd quarter," Rube said. "This group will peak a little earlier this year than last year. In other words, we should be farther along defensively than we were a year ago because we have some kids back."
Last year, Nassau County basketball played in ability-based grouping. The Owls made the playoffs, but lost in the first round of the playoffs to Manhasset. This year, Nassau basketball is grouped by enrollment, which should make for a slightly easier regular season for Lynbrook. With several key players back from last season, the Owls could be a serious playoff force this season.
"They are no joke, they are the real deal ," Clarke coach Joe Harclerode said of the Owls after the game.
Lynbrook returns to action Wednesday, when it will host Kings Park of Suffolk. Game time is 7 p.m.