There were a lot of stops and starts for Freeport's Leondre Simmon Monday -- the traffic that tied him up on the way back from Stony Brook University, the quarter spent riding the bench, and the 10 or so minutes it took him to get acclimated when he finally did take the court.
But say this for the point guard: For all the gears he shifted, he never did fully stall.
Simmon, who entered the game in the second quarter, had 14 points, eight in the third quarter, as Freeport defeated visiting Carey, 55-40, at the 25th annual George Emma Classic. Junior Kahiem Chaplin had 17 points for the Red Devils, who led by 29 in the third quarter.
It wasn't a bad day's effort for Simmon, who squeaked in moments before tipoff after seeing Stony Brook on an unofficial visit. Simmon, a wide receiver, is considering the school's football program.
Not that Freeport (9-1) was hurting without him; the Red Devils led 12-6 after one quarter.
"I was a little surprised," coach Bob DeBonis said. "The three guards are our main players -- Leondre, Jere [Brown], and Kyhiem, and that's where the bulk of our scoring comes from . . . but the other guys stepped up a little bit."
Stepped up, and shot down Carey, too. The Red Devils employed an aggressive 2-2-1 press, forcing a number of turnovers and otherwise shutting down some of the Seahawks' most consistent scorers. Despite being routinely double-teamed, Dan Sadlowski led Carey with 12 points. The 40 points was a season low for the Seahawks, who were outrebounded 49-29.
Carey (3-6) had something of a brief resuscitation in the second quarter. A 15-foot jumper from Sadlowski and a three from Carl Ricaurte drew them to within 13-11 with 6:35 left in the half, but Freeport scored seven straight, including a three from Simmon, to make it 20-11.
Calling Simmon a "great kid," DeBonis said that "when he got in, that wasn't really Leondre. He needed to get sorted out." And if there was a turning point, it was that trey, his first field goal of the game.
"It was tough coming from the long ride," he said. "Stony Brook is not close. It was kind of tough transitioning from football . . . and I didn't want to come in and take over because I saw the team was winning. I tried to blend with them, try to get them the ball more and see if they were hot or not.''
It finally came together "after I hit my first shot,'' he said.
Freeport went 12-for-35 from the field in the first half, compared with Carey's 7-for-19, and essentially put the game away on an 11-2 run kicking off the third quarter. Simmon finished with seven assists and Brown added eight points, eight rebounds and four steals in a well-rounded effort. He was named tournament MVP.
But that's just how Freeport does it, Chaplin said.
"It's the same game plan," he said. "If one player steps out, another steps up."