The famous quote embedded in the minds of the Baldwin boys basketball team has been, "Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard."
The Bruins have the talent, as seen Friday night during Brandon Williams' second half. But their talent doesn't substitute for hard work, which is why Baldwin now has made the playoffs for 12 straight seasons.
"I only teach one way: play hard," Baldwin coach Darius Burton said. "I feel like if we play hard, good things are going to happen."
Good things did happen in the second half. The Bruins showed off that hard work and upped their defensive intensity, and Williams scored all 16 of his points to help Baldwin defeat second-place MacArthur, 63-48, and clinch its second straight Conference AA-II title.
That hard work also might help Baldwin shed the runner-up label it has had the past two seasons.
"We're all working hard," Williams said. "We've been in the championship game the last few years but we keep coming up short. This year there is no holding back. We're putting everything on the line."
After being held scoreless in the first half, Williams, who also had 10 assists, attacked the basket early in the third quarter. Mykeil Tzul hit a jumper to open a 33-28 lead with 4:46 remaining in the third and Baldwin's pressure defense held MacArthur to two field goals in the next eight minutes.
Kirk Staine's turnaround jumper with 4:40 left opened a 48-36 lead and Williams sealed it with a deep straightaway three-pointer as the shot clock expired.
Kyle Richardson scored 11 of Baldwin's 13 first-quarter points and finished with 15.
Kevin Roach, who had a career day in a 73-61 loss to Baldwin on Jan. 6 with 30 points and 20 rebounds, was hampered by foul trouble but still had 12 points and seven rebounds in limited minutes. William Cheshire added 11 points, including three three-pointers.
"We are conference champions now and that's a great accomplishment," Williams said. "But our goal isn't a conference championship or a Nassau County championship but a Long Island championship."