Video: Westin Lynch drains 16 3-pointers in one game.
Watch overachieving senior set Coachella Valley record by scoring 59 points.
They've never met. They live on different coasts. They appear to have little in common. Westin Lynch
and Andrew DeSantis
play the same sport, but they could never be confused for one another on the court.
Lynch is a 5-foot-11, 150-pound first-year varsity starter on the
Rancho Mirage (Calif.)
boys basketball team. He was the junior varsity MVP as a sophomore, but when he got little playing on varsity as a junior, he was asked to head back to JVs again.
He agreed, but rather than pout, he worked even harder at his deficiencies and repeated as team MVP at the school, which is nestled in the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs.
"Here's a kid willing to keep working on his game even though that probably wasn't the popular thing to do," said Rancho Mirage coach Rob Hanmer. "He's a little short and not the quickest or strongest, but shooting is the great equalizer."
DeSantis isn't short or athletically challenged in the least. The 6-4, 185-pounder comes from athletic genes and, combined with an unyielding work ethic, quickness and sheer toughness, is a third-year starter and leading scorer on the Garden City (N.Y.)
He averages nearly 24 points per game for the 18-0 Trojans after starring on both sides of the ball for the Garden City state championship football team.
"He's a quiet kid, who leads by his actions," said Garden City basketball coach James Hegmann. "For 32 minutes he never takes a play off. He goes 100 percent, 100 percent of the time."
A devotion to their craft is the trait tying DeSantis and Lynch together.
And less than a week apart last month, 3,000 miles separating the two, their passions were rewarded with local headline news.
DeSantis, the second leading scorer in Nassau County this season, broke Garden City's career scoring record held by James Mastaglio (Class of 1994, 1,114 points) during a 69-38 win over Carey on Jan. 18.
DeSantis had a modest game of 17 points, but now is closing in on 1,300 career points. He had earlier set school sophomore and junior class scoring records.
"He's improved greatly over the years," Hegmann said. "He puts a lot of time into his craft. He can shoot the 3 or take the ball to the rack. He's got a great first step.
"The great thing about Andrew is all he cares about is winning. He knows he alone is not why were undefeated. It's a close group and they're happy for his success. But guys like Kevin McNiff
and Matt Granville
have been up on the varsity for three and four years also. They've grown up together though CYO and AAU. They've very close."
The Rancho Mirage players are also tight and Lynch may be the most well-liked on the team.
That's why they were so thrilled on Jan. 12 when Lynch broke a school and Coachella Valley record with 59 points on 16 three-pointers on 28 attempts in a 96-42 win at Desert Mirage.
The kid scratching for varsity time as a junior, more than doubled his previous career high of 25. No one was happier to see it than Hanmer.
"Couldn't happen to a better kid," he said. "In 25 years of coaching, he's one of my all-time favorites. The kids love him. We took the team to Hawaii in the summer and all the players asked to be his roommate. He can take a joke and dish it out. He's respectful to adults. His parents did a real nice job."
And the Rattlers did a nice job getting him the ball that record-breaking night after he made four three-pointers in the first quarter.
"He was hot from the start and his teammates kept feeding him," Hanmer said. "We ran some plays for him, but basically, he was just stepping out further and further and he kept making them. It was sort of ridiculous."
Lynch told Andrew L. John of the Desert Sun
: "The second quarter I had it going. I was feeling it. I had 23 at half and I had never gone over 30, so I said this was the time to go for it. ... What a great night."
He's hardly been a one-hit wonder. He averages about 17 points per game and has made close to 130 three-pointers for the 22-6 Rattlers, who open the 3AA Southern Section playoffs Wednesday against Tustin.
He may try to continue playing after this season, but he's positive that what he wants to pursue for a career. "He wants to be a teacher and coach," Hanmer said. "He'll be great at it."
DeSantis and the Trojans "have a chip on their shoulder," Hegmann said, after losing a first-round playoff game last season.
They open their 2018 playoff run this week.
"This team plays with a great sense of purpose," Hegmann said. "Their expectation is to win every game and that mentality is spread between all of them."
Part of that mentality stems from the football team, which won its second straight Long Island Class II football title with a 24-6 win over North Babylon in the title game at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium.
It completed a second straight 12-0 season to extend their win streak to 24 games.
DeSantis, one of the state's top defensive ends, scored on a 38-yard run and a 60-yard reception to complete a magical football career.
The year before, DeSantis starred on the defensive side in a 13-6 win over West Hills. In that game, he blocked an extra point, made four tackles for loss and recovered a fumble.
"It's all about playing as one," he told Newsday reporter Gregg Sara
that day. "We had a bunch of guys make big plays."
After winning the second straight football title, DeSantis told Newsday's Bob Herzog
: "It's amazing to go back-to-back. It was an awesome feeling."
There was more awesome news for DeSantis last week. He accepted a football scholarship to Division 2 squad Bentley University in Waltham, Mass.