It took the whole 32 minutes Thursday night, but the Mineola Boy’s basketball team was able to capture their first playoff win in nearly two decades by beating Jericho 66-58 .
Mineola had three players hit double digits, led by senior Jimmy Bulva with 24 points, 10 of them coming in the fourth quarter. Sophomores Brian Gaffney and Mike Waszczuk scored 14 and 12 points respectively.
After the game, Thomas Ward could not contain his excitement.
“Yeah, it’s our first win in the playoffs, it feels great,” the senior forward said.
Mineola opened the game strong, going on a 7-0 run in the first two minutes of the game.
Jericho responded by stringing together a 12-4 run to end the first with the score 15-13.
In the second, Jericho began to build on their lead. After Gaffney scored on a drive to the basket to make the Mineola deficit 18-15, Jericho scored on their next four possessions to jump out to double digits.
Afterwards, Ward said that the team knew that they could come back from the early deficit.
“We had to keep fighting,” he said.
Added Bulva: “we knew we could win.”
The Mineola seniors came to life, going on a 10-0 run in the last 3:18 seconds of the quarter with Ward kicking it off by nailing a three off of an assist from sophomore Malcolm Brown, then hitting a jumper to slash the lead to 24-27.
Bulva then took his turn, converting a pair of free throws and scoring on a put back on Mineola’s last possession, sending the Mustangs into the half down 27-26.
Coach Jim Hegmann said that Ward’s outburst was something he was waiting for.
“He just has to take his time, he needs to be set,” he said.
Ward also knew that his explosion was something just waiting to happen.
“I finally got the touch,” Ward said, “I needed that.”
In the second half, Mineola carried their momentum to re-establish their lead. The Mustangs regained the lead after Waszczuk converted a three-point play, and then drilled a trey off a pass from Brown to give Mineola a 40-33 edge going into the fourth.
In the final frame the game turned into a track match, with the teams combining for 51 points.
Jericho made two pushes, the first starting in the first two minutes of the period as they cut the deficit to 46-43.
But before Jericho could come any closer, Bulva and Gaffney took over the game, with Bulva dropping 11 points and Gaffney scoring nine.
Bulva started by stopping the comeback with three buckets, the third one giving Mineola an 8 point lead, 53-46.
With Jericho starting to come back after Corey Miller scored 5 straight, Gaffney made a trey on a pass from Bulva to push Mineola’s lead out to 58-52.
Jericho had one last run in them, though, and were able to get the lead down to 60-58 with 58 seconds left.
Gaffney was fouled and converted one of two free throws to give Mineola a 61-58 edge.
On Jericho’s next possession, Jonathan Orr committed a costly travel after Jericho had gotten an offensive rebound.
A foul by Jericho on junior Matt Moro on the ensuing possession sendt him to the line for two free throws but Moro could not convert, giving Jericho one last chance.
Jericho’s Jonathan Orr travelled at the top of the key with 26 seconds to go as Bulva was fouled on the ensuing inbounds, and went to the line to put the game away.
Bulva nailed the first, then clanked the second.
Moro, determined to make up for the two missed shots, came up with the offensive rebound and scored on the put back to seal the game for good.
“We felt we could put them away, we just had to execute,” Bulva said after the game, noting his team needs to stop allowing open shots.
“We need to close out on shooters more,” he said.
Mineola now turns its sights on the number one team in the tournament, Manhassett.
“We have to box out, they are bigger and stronger than us,” Hegmann said of his next opponent which they will face Monday away.1 2 3 4 F Jericho 15 12 6 25 58 Mineola 13 13 14 26 66 Mineola Scoring Statistics Player Position FGs 3PTs FTs Points Assts Rebs Jimmy Bulva Forward 8 0 8 24 0 0 Brian Gaffney Guard 1 2 6 14 0 0 Mike Waszczuk Guard 4 1 1 12 0 0 Thomas Ward Forward 3 1 0 9 0 0 Malcolm Brown Guard 1 0 2 4 0 0 Matt Moro Forward 1 0 0 2 0 0 Jericho Scoring Statistics Player Position FGs 3PTs FTs Points Assts Rebs Corey Miller 6 1 0 15 0 0 Jonathan Orr 4 1 1 12 0 0 Bryan Joachim 4 0 4 12 0 0 Jordan Kanzer 1 4 0 14 0 0 Garrett Johnson 2 0 0 4 0 0