Little did the Jericho Jayhawks know that when they lost the county title game last season, their missing championship piece was in the building. He wasn't on the court, or even on the bench. He was watching from the stands.
"I kind of regret not playing last year," said senior Derek Medolla, who opted to concentrate entirely on soccer after winning a state title. "Watching these guys last year in the championship game, I thought I really could have helped out if I played. It's my senior year. I told myself I didn't want to have any regrets."
No regrets this year.
Just a championship.
"We kept telling him, 'We made it to the championship game last year. With you, we can win it,' " Garrett Johnson said. "And that's exactly what we did."
Medolla brought toughness on the boards and a defensive presence inside that was needed to help the Jayhawks capture the final win that eluded them last season.
After Roslyn cut the lead to single digits early in the fourth quarter, Dave Orr threw a perfect full-court pass over the defense to Medolla. He converted the layup plus the foul, but missed the free throw, to make it 47-36 with 6:38 left.
Johnson finished with 16 points and seven rebounds, including a pretty crossover and pull-up jumper to give Jericho a 14-point advantage with 1:38 to go in the third.
Orr had 10 points and seven steals and Erik Kanzer added 14 points and seven rebounds.
"Last year was difficult but it was a big step for us," said Kanzer, a senior co-captain. "All year we were working for this moment right here. It doesn't get much better than this."
Terrance Pierce had 10 of his 15 points in the third, including a three just before the buzzer that pulled Roslyn (15-6) within 42-34. Mark Gjonlekaj had 10 points and eight rebounds.
"This season has been a great success for this team," Pierce said. "We got to Hofstra and that's what we said we wanted to do. Even though we didn't come out victorious today, it's still an accomplishment."
Jericho (18-3) advances to play Amityville in the Long Island championship at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Hofstra. They'll be there thanks in part to a player who went from being a spectator one year to a champion the next.
"All the guys knew what it was like to be here," Medolla said. "I just wanted to try to help them accomplish something amazing. We were able to do that today."