With no postseason for Nassau County high school basketball teams, the East Rockaway boys’ and girls’ will have to wait until the 2021-2022 campaign to defend their Class C titles.
East Rockaway’s boys’ won the Long Island Class C championship as well last March and were one victory away from a trip to the state semifinals in Glens Falls when the pandemic shutdown occurred.
The Rocks returned one full-time starter and one part-time starter but haven’t suffered any setbacks in terms of chemistry and picked up wins in four of their first five games. “It’s a sprint, not a marathon,” head coach Paul Collins said. “A season usually requires building brick by brick. This season was like putting walls up and hoping the house stays up. Fortunately for us, the kids up from JV are always used to the system because we teach the same thing at both levels.”
Senior Franklin Infante, an All-County guard, is carrying the offensive torch for the Rocks with a 27 point-per-game average. If this season wasn’t limited to eight games, Collins said Infante, who seeks to play in college, would have had an excellent chance to reach 1,000 career points. Infante poured in 37 points in a 58-47 win over Cold Spring Harbor on Feb. 22.
Senior forward Matt Machovec brought some starting experience at the varsity level and has done a nice job rebounding and protecting the inside with his defense. Junior forward Aidan Green has flourished in his first taste of varsity action with a pair of double-doubles, including a 21-point, 20-rebound effort to lead a 58-50 victory at Oyster Bay on Feb. 23.
Sophomore Tyler Hyland, a varsity reserve last season, and junior Tyler Poland, up from JV, solidified the backcourt and will be key figures next season along with Green.
East Rockaway girls’ basketball coach Cheri Poland has a junior-led roster, including captain Riley O’Hagan, Katie Howard and Theresa Lynch. All played integral roles in last year’s run to the county title.
O’Hagan, a smooth shooting guard, is averaging better than 10 points per game and broke out for 22, including five three-pointers, in a loss to Cold Spring Harbor on Feb. 22. “Riley’s our leader and our biggest outside threat,” Poland said.
Howard is a force in the paint, averaging close to 10 points while leading the team in rebounds along with senior center Emma Pollackov. Howard netted 13 points in a 44-33 win over Malverne on Feb. 24. Lynch is averaging 8 points per game, while freshman point guard Emma Poland has chipped in 7 and leads the Rocks in blocked shots.