Aiken Leads Wildcats To Crucial Win

SOUTH HUNTINGTON, New York, Jan. 15

BY: Andrew Wroblewski

If you ask Head Coach Thomas Fitzpatrick, or any of the Wildcats of the Walt Whitman boys basketball team for that matter, how badly the 60-55 loss Friday to division-rival Half Hollow Hills East stung, they’d tell you this:

“It hurt,” the coach said. “I felt we had an opportunity to win that game against a good team and games like that don’t come every day.”

Willie Petro, left, drives to the hoop on Friday as the Wildcats take on the Thunderbirds of Half Hollow Hills East.
Willie Petro, left, drives to the hoop on Friday as the Wildcats take on the Thunderbirds of Half Hollow Hills East.

But on Tuesday, the boys stepped back onto the court and they did it, in part, to avenge that loss. The Wildcats (3-3) rode Jordan Aiken’s season-best 21 points to a 59-50 victory over visiting Bay Shore (3-3).

“Give the kids all the credit. They responded [Tuesday] night with a good win,” Fitzpatrick said. “These guys are just buying in every day [and] Jordan had a really good night. He shot the ball well, was getting to the basket on drives and had a great assist-to-turnover ratio.”

A senior guard standing at 5-foot-8, Aiken is one of the team’s captains. Against Bay Shore, he showed his team leadership by dishing out 7 assists to his fellow Wildcats. Andre Harris, a senior center, was one of those beneficiaries as he provided secondary scoring for the Wildcats with 17 points of his own – also a season-best.

“He was a force inside for us that kept a lot of balls alive on the offensive glass,” Fitzpatrick said. “As a senior, it’s his first year at the varsity level and he’s exceeding expectations every day.”

Harris, standing at 6-foot-4, also had 13 rebounds to his name for his third double-double in the last five games. Korey Lee (8 points and 7 rebounds), Gary Harris (5 points), Julian Kleberg (4 points), Matt Stockfeder (2 points), and Willie Petro (2 points) filled out the remainder of the Wildcats’ scorecard and contributed to what’s been a key factor for Whitman’s success this season: depth.

“Without a doubt, our best games are when it’s a ‘deepest team’ competition,” Fitzpatrick said.

With the win, Whitman secured a tie for fourth place in League II.

“We’re just hoping to play better each game and hopefully the results will follow,” the head coach said. “Our goal since day one has been to keep playing basketball well into February.”

Getting back to business, Whitman is back on the court tonight for a crucial League II matchup. Northport (4-2), a team tied for second in the division, will play host to the Wildcats at 7 p.m. A win over the Tigers – who are riding a two-game win streak – would be “a good challenge” for the Wildcats moving into the second half of the regular season.

“They’re a very good team that’s brought a lot of players back from last year,” Fitzpatrick said. “We’ve got a tall order ahead of us.”

Originally published: Long Islander News: The Long Islander
(Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015;  A34)

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