Malverne’s Michael Warren Jr. was as cool as the ice bag he wore Thursday night.
“The Farmingdale State trainer gave me this pressurized ice bag at halftime,” Warren said. “I had it on for 10-to-15 minutes, and I felt way better.”
It showed. The freshman point guard came off the bench and sparked the Mules with 10 points and six assists — all in the second half — as Malverne defeated East Rockaway, 60-48, in the Nassau small schools championship at Farmingdale State.
Not bad for a kid playing with a hip pointer.
“We didn’t know if he was even going to play,” Mules assistant coach Walt Askionoff said. “But he said he wanted to give it a shot.”
Warren was just the shot Malverne (17-5) needed after it trailed at the half 24-19.
“He’s our spark, our distributor,” said Askionoff of Warren. “He’s only a freshman and he already plays at a high level. He’s going to be a beast as a senior when he fills out.”
But it was another underclassmen who made the difference in the third quarter as the Mules outscored the Rocks 17-6 in the period. Sophomore Jayden Seraphin added six points in the quarter as the Nassau B champ Malverne led 36-24.
It isn’t always pretty for the deep and talented Mules, but that’s just the way they like to play: physical, tough, (sometimes a little over aggressive with 10 second-half fouls) and gritty.
“We’re Malverne,” said Seraphin, who ended up with eight points and five rebounds. “We are built for this.”
The Nassau C champ East Rockaway (7-13) played hard throughout and climbed to within 43-38 after back-to-back three-pointers by Stefano Cilluffo (10 points) with 4:52 remaining. Teammate Shabue “Sky” Mosley led all scorers with 17 points, eight rebounds and three blocks.
But Malverne went on an 11-0 run — including five points from Donovan Ishmael (10 points, 10 rebounds and five steals) — as the Rocks never were closer than 12 the rest of the game.
East Rockaway faces Suffolk champ Greenport (20-2) for the Long Island Class C title on Tuesday. Malverne, which had beaten the Rocks twice during the regular season, meets Suffolk champ Center Moriches (19-2) in the L.I. Class B final on Tuesday.
“We always play with heart,” said Malverne senior Michael James, who added nine points. “We compete whether it’s a preseason game, regular season, or playoffs.”
Warren added: “Even in practice.”
Which is pretty cool.