The bench cleared early for East Rockaway Tuesday. Even recent junior varsity call-up Damian Amiruddin got some playing time . . . and he wasn't even wearing a jersey.
Amiruddin, who was called up prior to the Nassau championship game in mid-February, lost his varsity jersey and instead wore a matching bright orange East Rockaway T-shirt with his number on it, not expecting to play. But he got some late minutes as East Rockaway cruised to a 63-27 win over Pierson in a Class C boys basketball regional semifinal at Farmingdale State.
So if anyone finds a No. 14 East Rockaway jersey, they can drop it off at SUNY-New Paltz before the state regional final at 2:45 p.m. Saturday because that's where the Rocks will be playing against Tuckahoe.
"I was surprised I got in without the jersey,'' Amirruddin said. "I'm hoping to get a new one before Saturday.''
He'll need one thanks to East Rockaway's starting unit, which built an early lead. Justin Jonas, who had 10 of his game-high 13 points in the first half, ignited a 24-0 run with a putback for a three-point play with 2:25 left in the first quarter.
Pierson, playing without injured starting point guard Ian Barrett, struggled to break the East Rockaway press and committed four consecutive turnovers, two of which resulted in layups for Dylan Delury and Mikey Lores. With just over three seconds left in the first quarter, Lores rushed upcourt and banked in a straightaway three at the buzzer for a 23-10 lead.
Lores later found Delury on the backdoor cut for a layup to cap the 24-0 spurt and open a 32-10 advantage with 3:50 remaining in the half.
"We worked hard for this and it feels awesome,'' Jonas said. "We came out strong and knew what we had to do.''
Delury finished with 12 points, Mikey Lores and David McClure each had 10 and Joey Lores added eight.
Joey Butts led Pierson with 10 points, including three three-pointers.
"I was always told that good teams play in March,'' Pierson coach Dan White said. "To have a young team be able to play in March and have a chance to play in states was great. They see what the next level is for them.''
For twins Mikey and Joey Lores and their father, Joe Lores, who is also their head coach, the win extended their final and most successful season together with East Rockaway (12-7).
"We talked about this when we were little,'' Mikey Lores said. "I remember telling my dad that we'll take him to the state tournament. Now we are one game away.''
His coach/father told another Lores family story when asked about the need for one more win to advance to the state tournament in Glens Falls.
"When they were youngsters, I wanted to take a trip up to the state tournament to show them everything,'' Joe Lores said. "They were like, 'No, Dad. We're going to go when we're playing there.' So, they might be right.''