Malverne’s long-standing tradition of making the boys’ basketball playoffs has now reached five decades.
The Mules clinched a playoff berth for a 50th straight season – not including the postseason-less pandemic year of 2021 – thanks to a four-game winning streak capped off by a 73-56 win at Seaford on Jan. 31. The team is also playing their best basketball of the season with five wins in six tries to improve to 7-2 in Conference B play and 11-7 overall.
Malverne is also the prohibitive favorite to win the Conference B2 title as the regular season concludes this week. The Nassau Class B semifinals will be on Feb. 22 at Hofstra, as will the championship game on March 1.
“I think we’re peaking with two games left,” said associate coach Walter Aksionoff. “I don’t want to jinx it, but I would like to think if we don’t make any silly mistakes, we’ll be OK.”
Senior Farvens Ulysse had his second-best scoring output of the campaign against Seaford with 24 points and 12 rebounds and junior Kevin Estime continued his second half surge with a season-high 20 points and 14 boards. Chad Wesley added 10 points and five assists.
Malverne has scored at least 60 points during each game of the winning streak after doing so only twice previously. The Mules are averaging just over 56 points a game while yielding just over 52, good for third among the nine Conference B schools at press time.
Ulysse has picked up the slack left by last year’s graduating seniors with a 15.8 scoring average, which is over six points better than his junior year. Aksionoff said that settling him down early in the game, his rebounding and setting up second-chance points for him and his teammates have been keys to the season.
“If you follow our wins the last few, Farvens has been around the foul line area and he’s dropping 24, 19, 21 [points],” Aksionoff said. “He’s doing a great job on the rebounds which is crucial.”
Estime, who played on the JV team last year, has also been a force on the boards this season. He grabbed a career-high 22 in a win at East Rockaway on Jan. 13.
“Kevin’s picked it up,” Aksionoff said. “He’s been getting a lot of rebounds. The last game against Seaford he had 14 rebounds. He’s done a wonderful job.”
Senior Joshua Croom is the team’s second-leading scorer at 11.9 a game – over four points better than last winter – and has been the glue that keeps the team together, according to Aksionoff.
“The lynchpin that keeps everything together is Josh Croom,” Aksionoff said. “He understands the game, he gets the people in the right position [and] he scores when he has to score.”
Wesley is averaging just under seven points a game despite being hobbled with an ankle injury and his health could be the key to a successful postseason run. Aksionoff is also excited about the development of sophomore point guard Lorenzo Maione (5.3 ppg) and eighth-grader Malachi Hudson (4.9.)