Mark Gjonlekaj's 19 points help Roslyn to Nassau Class A final
The actual scoreboard showed that Roslyn won by 17 points. The motivational scoreboard read: "Roslyn 1, Seeding Committee 0."
The chants echoed in the hallway outside of the Roslyn locker room after Wednesday night's win: "12th seed . . . Forget the committee! 12th seed . . . Forget the committee!"
Those 12th-seeded Bulldogs, now headed for the county championship game, believe they beat the oddsmakers, not the odds. "We love it," Roslyn center Mark Gjonlekaj said of the low seed his team was given. "That's our motivation."
A motivated Gjonlekaj scored 19 points, including the final 10 for the Bulldogs, and had eight rebounds and three blocks as Roslyn beat No. 8 South Side, 59-42, in a Nassau Class A semifinal at SUNY-Old Westbury.
"We really don't have an opinion on other people's opinions," Roslyn coach Craig Murphy said of the seeding. "We set our goals and we're happy to be where we are now."
South Side cut the deficit to 49-41 with 2:35 left in the fourth on Paul Pandolfi's layup. Gjonlekaj answered with a pair of free throws, and on the ensuing possession, spun into the paint and hit a baby hook plus a free throw for the three-point play to seal it.
Andrew Slutsky added 15 points, including a layup through three defenders to give Roslyn a 41-22 lead with five minutes left in the third.
"I think everyone else is surprised we are here, but not us," Slutsky said. "Since we picked up our defense halfway through the season, there's been no stopping us."
Terrance Pierce added 10 points for Roslyn.
Pandolfi scored 10 of his 16 points in the third quarter and Gerald Mitchell finished with 12 points for the Cyclones (9-8).
Roslyn (15-4), which has won its three playoff games against higher seeds by an average margin of 15.7 points, advances to play No. 2 Jericho at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at Hofstra.
"You gotta love it," Gjonlekaj said of the win. "People in the stands are probably wondering, 'What are they doing as a 12 seed?' "
The committee now may be wondering the same thing.