With seven wins in its last eight Conference AA/A-III games, Calhoun enters the Nassau Class AA boys’ basketball playoffs on a tear and with the luxury of a home tipoff.
The Colts closed the regular season last Friday with a 53-40 victory at MacArthur. Senior Jalen Rosemond had 24 points and junior Corey Jones added 14 as they won their ninth conference game in 12 tries.
“We’re on a pretty good roll right now,” head coach Jay Kreutzberger said. “I’ve tinkered with the lineup quite a bit and we have a lot of experienced kids in the rotation. We’ve really picked up our defensive intensity down the stretch.”
Kreutzberger said the Colts began to turn a corner following a rough 83-42 defeat at Manhasset on Jan. 8. They allowed average of 45 points over their next four games and then turned the table on the Indians in a big way, winning the rematch 79-55 at home on Jan. 27 to run their streak to a season-best five victories in a row.
“We had a 65-point turnaround against Manhasset,” he said. “That showed how far we came in three weeks and really boosted the confidence level.
“We’ve been limiting our opponents’ runs and holding everyone to 60 points or less since that Manhasset game,” he said. “We’re playing with much more intensity and protecting the rim.”
Calhoun, which finished 18-3 last season, lost a pair of standouts but returned a handful of key contributors. Rosemond, a 6-foot-6 center who’s averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds per game, dominated conference rivals in the paint.
“Jalen’s been great, especially as of late during our hot streak,” Kreutzberger said. “We get him the ball in the low or high post and he’s difficult to stop.”
The Colts took a hit when junior forward Jake Edwards went down with a knee injury, but senior Brandon Rose is doing a solid job in his place. At the wings, senior Bobby Stokel (9.5 ppg) and junior Tom Casimano (7.5 ppg) are bringing tremendous energy at both ends of the floor and contributing on the boards, Kreutzberger said.
Jones took over the starting point guard role recently and is thriving, averaging nearly 12 points per game while making everyone around him better. He can knock down shots from behind the arc and is shooting about 90 percent from the foul line. “He can handle the ball and score,” Kreutzberger said. “He’s a confident and vocal playmaker.”
Jones had a career-high 23 points, Rosemond added 21, Stokel 13 and senior Jason Frank 12 in the win over Manhasset.
Calhoun’s resiliency in games can be traced back to a difficult non-league schedule Kreutzberger built purposely to challenge his squad early in the campaign. “It was good to see the Syossets and Farmingdales of the world, because those are the types of teams you’re going to meet in the playoffs,” he said.
The Colts overcame 14- and 10-point deficits to defeat Valley Stream Central (61-57 on Jan. 20) and Long Beach (79-61 on Feb. 6) as part of their late-season surge. They’re seeded No. 7 and open the Class AA playoffs this Friday at home against No. 10 East Meadow at 5 p.m.