Get out quickly and start running. Derrick Okunpolor knows that's when Kellenberg's basketball team is at its best.
It all came together for the Firebirds in the second half of the 27th George Emma Classic on Martin Luther King Day on Monday at Freeport High School.
And once it got going, Steven Torre was lighting up the scorebook. Torre scored 19 of his team-high 26 points in the second half for Kellenberg in a 56-45 win over Long Beach.
"My teammates were giving me good open looks,'' said Torre, who was named the game's team MVP. "All I had to do was make good open cuts and finish off that.''
Okunpolor made things easy for Torre because it was his rebounding that helped start the fast break for the Firebirds (10-3). Okunpolor had a game-high 20 rebounds to go along with 12 points and three blocks.
"We're a pass-first team,'' Okunpolor said. "We like to get out in transition and we were able to do that in the second half because we started to play strong defense. We look for the open man, make the pass and finish.''
Nobody was finishing better than Tyquan Scott in the first half. Long Beach's go-to player kept the Marines (4-8) in it with 14 first-half points and four spectacular blocks. Kellenberg led 23-19 at the break.
"I know I have to put a lot on my back,'' said Scott, who had a game-high 27 points, eight rebounds and seven blocks en route to being named his team's game MVP. "I know it's a lot to do, but I like to take on that challenge.''
After Scott dominated the first half, Torre's play spoke loudly the rest of the way. Two nifty passes on consecutive possessions led to a layup by Ryan Durney and a baseline jumper by Mike Torre, giving Kellenberg a 35-27 lead late in the third quarter.
"It's definitely about our team defense,'' Torre said. "When we started playing tough, intense defense, that's when we started to get going in transition.''
Long Beach coach T.J. Burke had seen enough, so he called a timeout after Torre capped Kellenberg's 11-3 run to open the fourth with a fast-break layup off Kyle DeVerna's feed. The Firebirds led 48-36 and never looked back.
"We play around Tyquan and hope our shooters can get off because that will open up the inside for us,'' Burke said. "Tyquan's going to keep us in most games.''
DeMeo leads Carey. In the second game, Dylan DeMeo's 23 points lifted Carey over host Freeport, 59-48. DeMeo was named team MVP, as was the Red Devils' Moses Fletcher, who had five three-pointers for 15 points. Carey's Tommy Gallant (16 rebounds, three blocks) and Adrian Denner (11 rebounds, five blocks) were tenacious underneath. "We needed to pick up a big win after losing a conference game to South Side last week,'' DeMeo said. "Just seeing it go in is what keeps me shooting.''