Adam Rodriguez knew taking down defending Nassau Class A champion Garden City would require busting the game open late.
Which is when he took matters into his own hands.
“My teammates were finding me and we just bought into the gameplan,” said Rodriguez, who scored seven of his 16 points in the fourth quarter and helped ride No. 8 Sewanhaka over No. 9 Garden City, 50-38, at home in the first round of the Nassau A boys basketball playoffs on Saturday afternoon. “We had a shaky third quarter and we knew we needed to win it and bust the game open. I was just feeling it and I really owe it all to my teammates.”
Sewanhaka (14-6) will visit No. 1 Elmont in the quarterfinals at noon Thursday.
Garden City (11-9) opened the third with an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to three and entered the fourth trailing 32-31. The Trojans took their first lead of the day on the opening possession of the period thanks to a Luke Long layup, but the Indians responded with an 12-0 spurt and never looked back.
Rodriguez capped off the run with six straight points and a three-pointer from the left wing with 2:13 remaining, extending the lead to 44-33 and sending the crowd into a frenzy.
He also drilled a contested, fadeaway three-pointer with 3.5 seconds remaining in the second to push the halftime advantage to 26-15. The Indians outscored the Trojans 16-8 in the second after a slow start for both sides.
Sewanhaka coach Jay Allen credited his team’s defensive effort and said he told them prior the fourth that it would ultimately be the deciding factor.
“Garden City is a well-coached team and a great program,” Allen said. “Their coach does a phenomenal job. It was just a battle defensively…I think we wore them down in the fourth.”
Joseph Hicks, who added 12 points for Sewanhaka, knocked down a contested runner to put the Indians ahead 34-33 with 6:30 remaining. He reminded his teammates after the third that their preparation equipped them to overcome Garden City’s momentum.
“I told them we prepare for this mentally and physically so we know what to do when it comes down to games like this,” Hicks said.
Now Sewanhaka looks ahead to a much-anticipated showdown with Elmont.
“They’re a really good team,” Allen said. “We split with them this year and going over there we’ll have to play our best to win. We’re gonna have to rise to the occasion.”