First, Deer Park junior guard Karon Blackwell stepped up to score a passing grade on his English Regents Tuesday afternoon. Then he stepped into the passing lane to score a huge basket that rescued his teammates as the Falcons held off host Half Hollow Hills West, 64-56, in a Suffolk IV game.
The Falcons (10-3, 8-1) led 57-56 with a minute to play but Hills West (8-3, 7-2) had possession. Point guard Marcus Solomon, who played a fine all-around game with 16 points, dribbled upcourt, under some duress.
Solomon hurried a pass toward teammate Jamir Blackman (13 points) near midcourt, but Blackwell, the son of former Giants cornerback Kory Blackwell, darted in front of Blackman for the interception.
He converted the turnover into a driving layup, was fouled, and sank the foul shot for a three-point play and a 60-56 lead with 44.7 seconds left. Blackwell made four free throws in the final 20 seconds to seal it for Deer Park, which defeated Hills West earlier this season, 86-57.
This one was a lot closer, even though Colts high-scoring forward Terry Harris had his left arm in a sling. Harris said he suffered a strained shoulder in Saturday's loss to Bayside in the Big Apple Invitational. Hills West coach Bill Mitaritonna said Harris will miss about a week.
Deer Park was led by center Rome Jenkins (16 points) and point guard Aaren Edmead (15 points), but needed Blackwell's fourth-quarter heroics.
"It was very intense out there," said Blackwell, who scored nine of his 12 points in the final period. "The crowd was big and we had to keep our composure. I wasn't happy with how I played in the first half, but I stepped up in the fourth.
"I saw that Aaren was putting pressure on Solomon, who was struggling with the ball. I saw the play early and anticipated the pass. Then I just took it to the basket."
The Falcons missed four of five free throws until Blackwell made five straight at the end.
"That says a lot about the kid to step up and make those shots," Deer Park coach John McCaffrey said.
It said that Blackwell passed two big tests on the same day.