Making a basket is a challenge in itself, but when you add in the obstacle of getting past the hands of Mustang center Jimmy Bulva, the task becomes similar to one of those carnival games where the hoop is actually smaller than the ball.
The senior co-captain had three blocks between 4:06 and 2:33 in the first quarter of Mineola’s against Clarke on Senior Night Friday evening, ending in a 58-35 drubbing for the visitors.
The Mustangs stuck to the Rams like glue, forcing traveling turnovers at 5:49 and 4:29 in the first. Senior forward and co-captain Thomas Ward threw in his own block with 54 seconds left to hold Clarke to a mere 4 points in the opening quarter.
“We were playing basic man-to-man defense,” Mineola Head Coach Jim Hegmann said after the game. “We were trying to cover the fundamentals today.”
Senior co-captain Luis Amaya came out strong with a three-pointer at 6:21 in the first, but for the most part the Mustangs were falling short on jumpers in the beginning.
Sensing their shooting percentage behind the arc, the Mustangs instead focused on a driving approach. Rather than one person pushing to the hoop through traffic, they took time to find the open man.
Bulva’s pass to Amaya at 5:06 in the first led to a basket and free throw for the Mustangs, giving them an 8-0 lead. Bulva himself had a layup off of a smooth pass by senior guard Ryan Mehra earlier in the quarter.
Sophomore guard Brian Gaffney widened the lead to 13-4 just 30 seconds into the second quarter with a trey which sophomore guard Malcolm Brown compounded with a pull-up jumper a minute later.
Enter Thomas “Fast Break” Breslin.
The junior forward came off the bench in the second quarter to make the hoop his home. Never straying too far from his domicile, he scored off of back-to-back long passes and off of a short pass from junior guard Quinn Paggi at the 16 second mark.
The Rams, a noticeably shooting team, could only muster a three-pointer by Rich Losco and a short jumper by Mike Martiello to finish the quarter with 5 points.
Breslin continued his dominance of the inside in the third quarter, aided considerably by Michael “Punches in Bunches” Waszczuk. Breslin fed the sophomore guard at 2:14 and Waszczuk scored three more times for 6 points between the 1:02 and 23 second marks on identical left-side drives.
“We pushed and shared the ball very nicely,” Hegmann said.
Clarke powerhouse Joe Falgiano tried to dig his team out of the hole with a pair of three-pointers in the third and fourth and Conner Donnelly hit two in the fourth, but the Mustang lead was too daunting.
Mineola had finally found their shooting touch by that point.
As if on command, Ward hit a three at 4:48 in the fourth. Brown had hit a trey earlier and Amaya hit his second with 2:40 left in the game to give the Mustangs their final score of 58.
“Everyone ran the floor hard and helped each other out on drives,” Hegmann said proudly.
With Seaford’s 60-56 victory over Valley Stream North Friday, Mineola will enter the playoffs as the third seed in Conference A-IV with a record of 7-3. Their overall record is 10-7.1 2 3 4 F Clarke 4 5 11 15 35 Mineola
10 17 13 18 58 Mineola Scoring Statistics Player Position FGs 3PTs FTs Points Assts Rebs Mike Waszchuk Guard 4 0 5 13 0 0 Thomas Breslin Forward 6 0 0 12* 0 0 Luis Amaya Guard 1 2 2 10* 0 0 Malcolm Brown Guard 1 1 2 7 0 0 James Bulva Forward 2 0 2 6 0 0 Thomas Ward Forward 1 1 0 5 0 0 Brian Gaffney Guard 0 1 0 3 0 0 Matt Moro Forward 1 0 0 2 0 0