By Jamie deJong

The Malverne men’s basketball team picked up an impressive victory over East Rockaway last Friday by the score of 74-41.

Malverne, a strong contender for the Class B championship from Nassau, has shown how well he can use his strengths to his advantage. Mules assistant coach Walter Aksionoff thought the game was a potential learning experience for some of the players who haven’t played particularly important roles this season.

“Trey Robinson just dominated a bit,” Aksionoff said. “I managed to bring in some of my guys who haven’t played a lot. They have to see what it takes to be on the pitch.

The Mules more or less won this game on the boards, as they did a great job capitalizing on the inherent height difference between the two rosters. Robinson, fellow senior DeAndre Blagrove and junior Joshua Croom all finished with double-digit rebounds. Robinson was able to score seemingly at will, as his game-high 34 points came mostly from offensive rebound delays and midrange jumpers. Blagrove was also a force on the offensive side, as he had 17 points and 13 rebounds, sometimes overpowering defenders with his size alone.

Malverne is currently in an enviable position, as the Mules currently hold an overall record of 14-2 and are assured of a No. 1 or 2 seed in the playoffs. There are some factors that look promising when it comes to the Mules’ potential run in the playoffs.

“We need to rest and heal with our 3 games ahead,” said Aksionoff. “I think we are sitting well at the moment. I’d like to think we’re going to be in second place, but we’ll find out. Luckily, I think we are peaking at the right time, which will help us.

Malverne will close out their regular season with games against Locust Valley, Carle Place and then finish with West Hempstead.

For East Rockaway, the size differential seemed to be the central catalyst for the disappointing loss. There were certain rooms where no amount of hustle or heart could make up for the differences in stature. Still, the team didn’t give up and never gave up at any point in the game. There were times when it looked like the game could have gotten out of hand, but the team managed to keep the game competitive until the Mules retired late.

“My team isn’t giving up,” East Rockaway head coach Paul Collins said. “I’m very proud of them because they never gave up. I think we had lost 26 and a point and they brought it down to 17, so I’m proud of them for that. We just need to clean up a few things and we’ll be more successful.

Junior Tyler Hyland and senior Aidan Green led the Rocks with 13 points apiece. The duo were also responsible for all 3 converted 3-point attempts for the Rocks. Senior Joseph Giammona contributed 8 points and was perfect from the foul line on 6 attempts.