Two words: Jimmy. Bulva.
Combine them and you get the senior forward co-captain who came through in a clutch for his team, leading the Mustangs (7-4) to an edge-of-your-seat 55-54 victory over Conference A-IV rival Valley Stream North Tuesday evening .
The tension was palpable. A fadeaway jumper by senior forward Thomas Ward with 2:52 remaining in the fourth quarter brought the Mustangs ahead 53-50 – their biggest lead of the night in a game that, for the most part, saw them tasting defeat.
At the 2:19 mark, Spartan Anthony Martelli answered back with his sixth 3 pointer of the evening, tying the score at 53.
With 46 seconds left, a foul by Mustang sophomore guard Brian Gaffney gave the Spartans two free throw opportunities. They sank one.
29 seconds later, the bleachers almost collapsed and the roof nearly blew off the high school gym.
A hard-earned drive by Bulva had brought the Mustangs ahead 55-54.
“Bulva! Bulva!” the Mineola fans erupted. Forget about the band and cheerleaders that were present, the chanting of that name drowned out everything.
It was Valley Stream North’s last chance and as good as any they had had all night. Then came Bulva, intercepting a pass seemingly at the buzzer and chucked it away, sending the crowd into a tizzy when a whistle sounded.
Bulva had tossed the ball into the ceiling and therefore out of bounds with half a second still left on the clock
You couldn’t get more suspense if you stole it from ‘Paranormal Activity.’
Valley Stream missed an obviously rushed last shot and the cheers for Mineola culminated.
“After being down in the first half,” Bulva said, “I knew I had to take over and drive to the basket.”
Despite a slow start including a scoreless first quarter and only a 4 point second, Bulva came out for the third with a new purpose.
Gaffney kept his team in the game with an outstanding 15 point first half, but the Spartans took the reins with a big three and opened the gap to a 37-29 lead in the third quarter. Sophomore guard Michael Waszczuk then tacked on an unbelievable seven points in just over a minute to cut the lead to 37-36.
Thirty seconds later, at 4:20 in the third quarter, Bulva was fouled and went 1-2 from the line. His basket tied the score up for the Mustangs for the first time that night.
Bulva went on to score 14 of his team’s remaining 18 points, including an inside shot that brought Mineola their first lead of the day (47-46) with 6:09 left in the fourth quarter as well as the aforementioned game-clincher. He led his team with 21 points overall.
“It was a great comeback,” said a beaming Mineola Head Coach Jim Hegmann, who’s team just upped their conference record to 4-0 and moved into first place. “They could have hung their heads, but they stepped up.”
The Mustangs will defend their first place spot on the road at 4:30 p.m. Hegmann realized that his team will go into the match “with a bullseye on our chests,” but nonetheless are “going to come out hard and hopefully go 5-0,” Bulva said.1 2 3 4 F Valley Stream North 19 15 12 8 54 Mineola 9 20 14 12 55 Mineola Scoring Statistics Player Position Points Jimmy Bulva Forward 21 Brian Gaffney Guard 15 Thomas Ward Forward 8 Michael Waszczuk Guard 7 Thomas Breslin Forward 2 Matthew Moro Forward 2