Roslyn High School boys hoops shoots for first county title in 15 years

Roslyn High School boys hoops shoots for first county title in 15 years

Before the start of every practice for the Roslyn boys basketball team, head coach Greg Tull walks up to each player and shakes their hand.

Sometimes he asks them about their day, sometimes about their family, and sometimes it’s even related to the sport that’s brought them together.

But each day, Tull tries to make a connection to each kid.

“He’s just getting to know us better personally every time he does that,” said junior Jake Kenyon. “It’s just very personal, every day.”

Shaking a hand before practice: Such a little thing. Such a big thing.

Little things add up to big things sometimes, and that’s how a dramatic turnaround like the one the Bulldogs have experienced can happen.

Under second-year coach Tull, Roslyn went from 6-11 in 2022-23 to 18-3 so far this season. With a combination of seniors who’ve been through the program and can proffer experience and younger players who have given the team a B-12 shot of enthusiasm and skill, the Bulldogs are currently in rarefied air.

Tuesday night Feb. 27 Roslyn will face perennial power South Side at 8 p.m. at Farmingdale State College in the Class AA Nassau semifinals.

If the third-seeded Bulldogs are able to win that one, they’ll play for their first county crown since 2009 on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Farmingdale.

It’s all pretty heady stuff for a group that’s still learning how to win.

“We saw some seeds of this last year, but having a full year to have everyone go through spring workouts, summer workouts, and get great competition has made a big difference,” said Tull, a former player at Queens College in his first head coaching job. “The kids from Day 1 last year bought in and worked really hard, so we’re not surprised we saw some success.”

While last season’s varsity team struggled, the JV went undefeated under coach Gerald Eugene, and several players from that squad have excelled and made the varsity stronger this year.

That group is led by Kenyon, a 5-foot-10 guard who has an old-school game, scoring most of his points in the paint (averaging 12.1 points per game), and junior Zach Cuppersmith (11.3 ppg).

And the senior leadership group has also been strong, led by guard Mason Goodstadt (the team’s leading 3-point shooter, averaging 13.5 points per contest), and senior Harris Mihalatos.

Combine those elements with a frequent trap-pressing defense Tull advocates, and Roslyn stormed through league play with a 12-2 record.

“Harris is one of those kids who does so much that doesn’t show up in the boxscores, leadership wise and holding every single player accountable,” Tull said. “When he speaks, the kids listen, everywhere.”

Goodstadt said that he’s adjusted to being just a scorer last year to being an all-around leader this season, and that Tull “radiates positive energy.”

“You saw it right away after last season, everyone’s energy was higher, louder, and everyone showed up for offseason workouts,” Goodstadt said. “And as things got rolling, we got more and more support from the community. Our student section is as rowdy as anybody’s.”

That homecourt advantage helped the Bulldogs get their signature win this season, a 58-53 triumph over powerhouse Elmont on Jan. 18. That victory announced to Nassau County that Roslyn basketball was back.

The Bulldogs beat Jericho in the quarterfinals on Feb. 20, but now they face a huge challenge against South Side, the defending Long Island Class A champion.

“To be the best you’ve got to beat the best, and they’re a powerhouse program that is so well coached and always has great kids,” Tull said. “I’ve told the kids that in the playoffs you’ve gotta play with a greater sense of urgency, and really compete every second. I think our kids understand that, so I think it’ll be a great game.

“We’re not just excited to be here,” Kenyon said. “We’d be excited to win.”


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