Hoops, He Did It Again: Sophomore Shoots and Scores for South


Cari Raphael

Great Neck South High School Boys Varsity Basketball team was a first-round exit in the playoffs last year. This year seems different. This year they have leveraged a secret weapon, a sharp shooter, and a member the team can count on in crucial moments. This weapon is sophomore Jesse Roggendorf. 

As a freshman, Jesse made varsity. Joining an already established team is very hard, especially being quite younger than most of them. Yet Jesse quickly found his place. Midway through the team’s 2021-2022 season when many starters fell ill to Covid, the coaches started Jesse. During his first start, he sank a clutch 3-pointer to give his team the lead with 45 seconds left in the game. From that moment, Jesse secured his spot in the starting five. Last season, fans heard the announcers call out “Freshman Guard Jesse Roggendorf” as part of the starting five, which electrified fans. 

Now a sophomore, Jesse is exceeding expectations. He is currently averaging 19.3 points per game, making him fifth in the county for scoring. On Saturday, January 7, 2023, Jesse finished his game with 41 points, a feat rarely accomplished by NBA players. That was a turning point for Jesse because he began to believe in himself. “After the game, I was told by one of the coaches that I had 41 points. I didn’t believe him at first because I knew I had a pretty good game, but I would have never thought I would have that good of a game. I was shocked and happy because that was my career high and by an extreme amount,” said Jesse. 

Jesse was only averaging 7.1 points per game last year. Despite that, Jesse still clinched a spot in Newsday’s Top 100 players going into the season. This is because numbers and statistics cannot show everything about a player. Many may believe Jesse is just a raw talent, but this assessment fails to show his grit and determination. Players get tired just watching the 15-foot shooting machine roll out at practice, knowing that in mere seconds, they are going to have a ball flying at them that they must shoot over the machine before the next ball shoots out. But Jesse was willing to regularly stay an extra hour and a half after practice, despite the pain, in order to improve. 

Last spring, Jesse also injured his back, which stops many from returning to their sport. Yet Jesse was determined to get back on the court. He spent numerous hours at physical therapy, private coaching, and in his backyard in order to make his comeback.

While all team sports require teamwork, basketball demands an even higher level of collaboration because a small court leaves no room for egos. Jesse is the embodiment of a team player. “We are better not only playing-wise, but in morale as well,” said Johnny Roggendorf, Jesse’s twin brother. Whether Jesse is making the team laugh at a hard practice or picking up a teammate after a bad game, he is there for his team. “He puts his team before himself always. He is the team’s general when he’s on the court. He is a crucial part of something that goes beyond all of this,” Johnny added. 

2021-2022 Senior Captain Justin Semmel (‘22) noted Jesse’s tenacity. “As a freshman, going up against people three years older than you is extremely tough. From the moment he stepped in the gym, he was up for every task that was asked of him. He worked harder than most, if not all, of his teammates during practice. All of the big stages and loud crowds, he played through it and didn’t let anything get into his head. He would hit consistent clutch shots and big free throws. Throughout the season I worked with him, and I watched him use things he learned in games the following day. It was amazing to witness. He was a good energy in the locker room, remembered all of the plays, and showed captain qualities throughout the season. He’ll show out for many years to come.”