East Meadow needs strong finish

Playoff berth still within reach


As the end of the regular season hits the horizon, East Meadow knows what’s needed to earn a berth in the upcoming Nassau Class AA boys’ basketball playoff tournament, and in many respects, the Jets can control their own destiny.

After falling at Baldwin last Saturday, East Meadow (7-6 overall, 3-5 in Conference AA-II) likely needs at least two wins, and possibly three to grab the fourth and final playoff slot.

Trailing by nine after the first quarter against the Bruins, East Meadow struggled to get into the game thanks in large part to a suffocating defensive effort that slowed down junior guard Cody Zafran, and two quick fouls on senior forward Joe Campay that further disrupted the Jets offensive rhythm. “They took our guards right out of the game and we didn’t run our offense,” coach Barry Dickson said.

Zafran, who scored a game-high 24 points in an earlier loss to Baldwin, became the No. 1 target of the Bruins’ defensive attention and managed just six points in the rematch. “We felt like he was beating us off the dribble too much [in the first meeting],” Baldwin coach Darius Burton said, of the adjustments his defense made.

The extra attention focused on Zafran isn’t necessarily something new, as both he and Campay, East Meadow’s top offensive weapons, are routinely at the top of the list when it comes to game-planning against the Jets. But if East Meadow is going to make a late run at the postseason, the two are going have to fight through the growing roadblocks. “It’s going to have to come from our offense,” Dickson said of a rebound in the standings. “We have to get big performances from our two best down the stretch, but do it within the framework of our team offense.”

The offense struggled in a 44-37 victory over Plainview-JFK on Jan. 18, but the defense did plenty of heavy lifting in the win, limiting the Hawks to single digit point totals in the second and third quarters. In fact, East Meadow allowed just three points in the second, with junior Damian Sanders leading the effort. “He’s really quick and when he gets into an opposing guard he really disrupts him,” Dickson said. “He plays hard and has great energy.”

Sophomore Joe Forrier scored a game-high 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Zafran scored nine and Campay chipped in with eight. “Forrier’s doing what we expected,” Dickson said of the sophomore who’s averaging 10 points and eight rebounds per game. “He’s a guy that scores inside and can also hit the corner jumper, and he’s getting to the free-throw line a lot for a sophomore.”

The Jets travel to Port Washington for a 6:45 p.m. tipoff this Friday and then have a seven-day break before hosting Hicksville on Feb. 8. Campay scored 28 points in a 66-56 OT win over the Comets earlier this month.