Jayson Robinson left his heart in Amityville to play high school basketball elsewhere. Until his senior year, when heart won over hype.
The athletic guard played his freshman and sophomore years at Long Island Lutheran and his junior year at Cardozo, both successful, celebrated programs. But for his finale, it was time to come home. “I grew up with these kids. I felt this team would be something special,” Robinson said of seniors like Newsday All-Long Island guard Josh Serrano and frontcourt players Braden Tannis and Julius Goddard. “I thought I was the missing piece.”
With Robinson offering a second scoring option to Serrano, plus exceptional pressure defense that was a trademark of the Warriors all season, Amityville compiled a 19-game winning streak and rolled to the state Class A championship with a 74-54 victory over Ardsley on March 18 in Binghamton.
“It’s an amazing feeling. This is what I came back here for,” Robinson said after the Warriors’ first state crown since 2003.
He scored 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the title game, earning all-tournament honors. The MVP was Serrano, who scored 29 points in the final and 22 in a 52-42 win over Irondequoit in the semifinals. “We played together in summer and fall leagues and worked so hard for this,” Serrano said. “It’s my senior year and I wanted it bad.”
All the Warriors were looking for redemption after being stunned by Bayport-Blue Point, 88-85, in the first round of the 2017 Suffolk Class A playoffs. “I thought I had a special team last year, too,” Amityville coach Gordon Thomas said. “We needed a little more enthusiasm. After the Bayport loss, I told them, ‘That’s not happening again.’ ”
It didn’t, thanks to a wondrous senior year by Serrano, who earned Newsday All-Long Island honors for a second straight season by averaging 25.7 points per game, fourth-best on L.I. Robinson added 16.6 points per game and was a key figure in the team’s disruptive, ball-hawking man-to-man defense that was its trademark all season. “I think he’s the best defensive guard on Long Island,” Thomas said.
An athletic frontcourt featuring Tannis, Goddard and the latter’s younger brother, freshman Myles Goddard, also contributed relentless rebounding that helped Amityville earn six championships: Suffolk V, Suffolk Small School, Suffolk Overall (beating Long Island Class AA champ Half Hollow Hills East), Suffolk A. Long Island A and, most coveted, State A.
“I preached to them that defense wins championships,” Thomas said. “We brought the heat defensively, and that’s definitely why we won a state championship.”
A little heart didn’t hurt, either.
WARRIORS Road to the Championship
Suffolk A playoffs
Kings Park, 76-61
Suffolk A championship
Long Island championship
Garden City, 84-71