It took them a while to get there, but Kingston made their trip worthwhile.
After roughly a two and a half hour drive, Justin Robinson led the Tigers with 17 points and 9 assists as the defeated defending Suffolk County Class AA champion Baldwin, 61-55, in the Upstate/Downstate Tournament at Uniondale High School.
“We played very well together,” said the 5-foot-8 senior. “We hustled on defense, worked them hard, crashed the boards, we’ve got to continue to believe.”
Kingston got it going in the early stages. Trailing a point in the first quarter, the Tigers rallied off a 9-0 run to take their first lead of the game and extend that to 12-4. That lead would be cut to five at the end of the quarter.
However, Kingston would own the second quarter.
To start off the period the Tigers would go on a 12-0 run that made their five-point advantage a 15-point lead in just a matter of minutes. Capping off that run was one of Robinson’s 9 assists to Micah Riddick for two of his 5 points in the game.
“My teammates were ready for the ball and in great spots to score,” says Robinson. “I like to attack, so the defense drew towards me which left them open, so they just needed to make the shots with the open looks.”
No other Tiger took advantage of those looks more than 6-foot-1 guard Jordan Decicco. Five of Robinson’s assists went to Decicco, who finished with a game-high 18 points. Decicco connected on four three-pointers in the game that continually knocked the wind out of any Baldwin run. Not only was his outside shooting detrimental to Baldwin, but also his defensive prowess as he finished with three steals in the game.
Robinson talks about his teammate, “We feed off each other. He puts us in good situations. He’s a great scorer, plays hard on defense, and he’s a great teammate.”
The Bruins, though, would make a run at it in the second half.
Baldwin (0-1) proved why they should not be forgotten, despite being in a 37-19 hole at halftime. In the third quarter, Eric Mack scored 7 of his 12 points in the game, Travais Hylton had 7 points and a pair of assists, and Jordan Williams added 4 points of his 11 points in the game to make cut the lead to 51-37.
Baldwin would go on a furious rally against Kingston in the fourth quarter, but the comeback fell merely six points shy.
“[Head Coach Ron Kelder] told me I needed to have the ball and keep control of the game,” said Robinson. “Play defense, play together.”
Now they head back north together, but the win was well worth it.
Follow Bill on Twitter @MSGVBillMueller