YORKTOWN, N.Y. – No. 16 Yorktown was off and running in their Section 1 Class A out-bracket contest against No. 17 Lincoln on Feb. 15, jumping out to a 46-24 lead on their way to a 70-62 triumph.
“We shot the ball very well in the first half and trusted each other on offense,” said Yorktown coach Mark Pavella.
Leading the Huskers was senior captain Roni Brucaj, who made his final home game one to remember, scoring a team-high 23 points. Brucaj also led the Huskers with 9 rebounds.
Yorktown (11-10) set the tone of the game in the first quarter, where they outscored Lincoln, 23-13. Husker Jared Faivre, scored 6 of his 12 points in that quarter, courtesy of two 3-pointers.
The Huskers did not rest on their early success, as they outscored the visitors, 23-11, in the second quarter, and Brucaj was a big reason why, as he connected on four 3-point attempts.
Extending the lead was huge for Yorktown, especially considering Lincoln finished the regular season as the highest scoring team in the section.
“This was a big win in order for us to advance to the playoffs,” Brucaj said. “Knowing I was hot, I was going to keep shooting, which allowed us to extend the lead. A team like this can come back at any time, so we had to stay locked in.”
Defensively, Brucaj also stood out, drawing four charging fouls, which impressed Pavella very much.
“Roni has been taking three to five charges a game,” Pavella said. “I’m pretty sure he leads Section 1 in charges. It’s such a big momentum swing.”
Brucaj, rightfully so, took pride on excelling on the defensive end of court.
“They were really important,” Brucaj said of taking the charges. “It takes away eight easy points and allows us to get more possessions.”
Having Brucaj on the floor is comforting, said fellow senior captain Rob Miller.
“The whole team knows what we are going to get out of Roni every game,” Miller said. “He’s going to knock down shots and take a lot of charges.”
Miller (8 points) also excelled on the defensive side, with 6 steals.
“I was able to read the player’s eyes, which allowed me to anticipate where he was throwing the ball,” Miller said.
Yorktown continued to build on their lead in the third quarter, outscoring the Lancers, 16-12. That gave the Huskers a comfortable 62-36 advantage going into the final quarter, allowing the host to withstand the Lancers’ 26-point fourth quarter.
Sam Pincus (7 points), Eddie Brucaj (6 points), Jack Prybylski (6 points), Sean Vogel (5 points), Tony Granitto (2 points) and Antoine Coles (2 points) also produced for Yorktown.
“Winning my final home game tonight was a great way to end my high school basketball career, especially with my friends and family in the crowd,” Miller said. “It will always be something I remember. But we still have unfinished business.”
If Yorktown wants to make their second trip in four years to the semifinal round at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, they have to win two more games.
The first of those games for the Huskers is at No. 1 Tappan Zee, at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, in an opening-round contest.
“We will need to get a good week of practice in this week to prepare for Friday,” Pavella said.
What will help the Huskers is the fact that this is their second game at Tappan Zee this season. Yorktown lost against Nyack, 49-46, in the Two Counties, One Cause High School Basketball Tournament on Saturday, Jan. 11, at Tappan Zee.
“It’ll help a lot since now we have a feel for the rims instead of going their blind,” Brucaj said.
Yorktown also lost to visiting John Jay (Cross River) on a last-second 3-pointer on Senior Night, their regular-season finale, 67-66, on Feb. 12, led by Roni Brucaj (17 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists) and Eddie Brucaj (12 points, 9 rebounds).