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Syosset, winless in conference last year, upsets Uniondale

Syosset guard Dan Albernas knew expectations were low.

“I think that, really, just our coach and our players gave us a chance heading into this game,” the 5-11 junior said.

After failing to win a game against a conference opponent last season, few predicted the Braves would upset Uniondale, which last year made it to the Nassau County final, on Thursday in the AA-I opener for both teams.

But that’s just what happened, as host Syosset defeated Uniondale, 71-57, behind Albernas’ game-high 31 points, that included six 3-point field goals.

Albernas shot 6-for-7 from 3-point range and 9-for-12 overall. He was moved up from junior varsity last season and played four games on the varsity level, he said. For Albernas, it’s been a seamless transition.

“The varsity game is more physical and faster but it wasn’t that hard to adjust,” Albernas said. “Today, my teammates were looking for me. I like to get the team involved first but if we start to struggle someone has to score for us.”

Syosset never really struggled, though, as it held a lead after every quarter, but Albernas supplied the scoring, anyway.

“He was simply great for us,” said first-year head coach Greg Cardona.

Chase Jaloza scored 15 points off the bench and Bryan Zecher grabbed 13 rebounds for Syosset. Imran Ritchie led Uniondale with 26 points.

“At Syosset, we like being the underdog. We knew we had a chance, even though probably no one else expected us to win today,” Albernas said. “Everyone was very excited but we feel like there are more wins to come. Before the game our coach told us to forget about last season.”

For the Braves, it’s all about this season and changing expectations.