Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 01 March 2013 00:00
In the stands at Roslyn High School basketball games, the school’s athletic director, Dawn Cerrone, wears a blue Roslyn jersey with the number 12 on it. Why? Well, despite having a great regular season in which they won 14 games, the Bulldogs are ranked #12 in Class A playoff action. As such, all of their games have been on the road, including the two wins over Bethpage and Mineola. The low ranking has given Roslyn all the motivation they have needed so far to advance in the playoffs.
The Bulldogs have stormed into semifinal action with a convincing 72-54 romp over Mineola. Playing, once again, on the road Roslyn managed to pull away from the Mustangs in the second quarter, before blowing the game wide open in the third frame. Mineola started the game playing a zone defense, one that managed to keep Mark Gjonlekaj’s high-scoring game in check. At the end of the first quarter, Roslyn held a slim 18-15 lead, playing in front of a capacity crowd at Mineola High School that was overwhelmingly in favor of the home team.
However, Roslyn used its relentless fast break offense, plus a remarkably deep bench to add to that lead. In the second quarter, Gjonlekaj scored on a left-handed tip in that gave the team a 27-19 lead. Prior to the halftime buzzer, Roslyn scored two key goals with two more offensive rebounds, one by Neil Cohen and another by Ben Rashbaum, goals that gave Roslyn a 36-25 lead going into halftime.
In the third quarter, Mineola was forced to go to the man-to-man and here Gjonlekaj took over, using his superior height and deft shooting touch to hit back-to-back shots, giving Roslyn a 42-25 lead. Later, Andrew Slutsky hit a three-point shot that gave Roslyn a 47-27 lead, one that they would expand to a 61-31 advantage on a Gjonlekaj dunk, coming at the end of a fast break. Even when Mineola was in a zone defense, Roslyn ran whenever they could, off of long rebounds and especially steals, as Terrence Pierce had several fine pickpockets. Gjonlekaj and Pierce both had 16 points. Gjonlekaj added 15 rebounds to his other contributions.
On Wednesday, Feb. 27, Roslyn traveled to SUNY-Old Westbury for a semifinal match with South Side.