After enduring four consecutive losing seasons, the Oceanside boys have righted the ship in 2017-18. The Sailors finished with a regular season overall record of 11-7, 7-5 in Nassau Conference AA-I, and are headed back to the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
With a 55-53 victory over Massapequa on Feb. 6, the Sailors capped off a run that saw the team win four of five games to secure a postseason berth. Senior Anthorn Garrett scored 18 points and pulled down 10 rebounds to lead the way. Oceanside trailed by 13 points entering the final quarter.
Senior point guard Ryan Powers scored 11 points, and junior Brian Pod added nine points and a team-high 12 rebounds. Oceanside, the No. 5 seed will host No. 12 Hempstead on Friday evening at 6. The teams split two regular season meetings.
Head coach Joe Supple likes the progress his team has made. “One of the things we talked about coming into the season was challenging ourselves to be a playoff team,” Supple said. “The guys accepted their roles and walked the walk. We’re proud, but far from satisfied.”
In what is considered to be one of Nassau’s toughest conferences, the Sailors defeated every conference foe at least once except for perennial-power Uniondale. Oceanside also battled back from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter when it knocked off Massapequa 59-55 the first time the teams met.
Things didn’t come easy for the Sailors. The team played nearly all of the second half of its season without the services of 6-foot-8 sophomore Jake Tavroff who was injured in a 51-50 win against Freeport. Tavroff was leading the team in scoring and rebounding when he went down with an ankle injury. He will return for the playoffs.
With their big man down, Oceanside had to play a different style with a smaller lineup. The Sailors attacked the basket, shot the three more than they’re accustomed to, and utilized a full-court press.
With a whole lot more of his shoulders, Garrett, who is averaging 15.1 points per game, took his game to another level. The deadeye shooter hit 18 three-pointers over a four-game stretch and became a double-double machine.
Pod, who can play all five positions, displayed his prowess on the boards despite often giving up several inches to opponents. Junior Jake Lazzaro also plays a multitude positions. Lazzaro prides himself on shutting down the opposing team’s top player, especially when playing at home in front of what is arguably the best fanbase in the county.
“This is exciting for our program,” Supple said “Hempstead is a very talented team that we know well. Both of our games this season went to overtime, so we know the challenge ahead of us. They have good size and athleticism plus a few guys that can really shoot it. We’re excited to get a home game and fully expect our crowd and student section to help. They create an energy that the boys really feed off.”