HARLEM, NY - For an early season matchup, it doesn't get much more interesting than Mt. Vernon vs. Bishop Loughlin. Both are considered to be challengers to win the Federation title come March, and both were looking for a big statement win Saturday at the Rucker Holiday Classic in Harlem. From start to finish though, it was the Lions who played the more inspired game as they cruised to a 76-56 win.
With St. John's head coach Steve Lavin in attendance to check him out, Khadeen Carrington got the game off strong for Loughlin hitting a runner in the lane to open the scoring and then connecting on a short baseline jumper. Mike Williams also served notice early on that he would be a dangerous threat nailing down a couple early threes. Add in the play of Jayvian Delacruz who able to get into the lane and finish with ease, and this had makings of a blowout as Loughlin was containing all the Knights weapons and had a 27-15 lead after 1.
The 2nd quarter saw 5'8" PG Josh Doughty light up the floor. The senior would knock down four three's in the quarter and would show an array of moves on the perimeter that wowed the capacity crowd. With Doughty starting to heat up, the entire Mt. Vernon team stepped up and applied more ball pressure which seemed to rattle the Lions a bit. Doughty would score 14 points in the quarter as the Knights fought back from what was an early 17 point hole to just trail 40-33 at the half.
You could say it was anyone's game going into the 3rd quarter, but Bishop Loughlin quickly dashed any hopes that Mt. Vernon may have had starting the quarter on an 8-0 run behind back to back corner threes from Delacruz and Williams. The defensive intensity of the Lions picked up as well pressuring Doughty more to force him into bad shots or passes. The good defense led to more fastbreak opportunities for Loughlin as well with Khalik Howe getting to the basket a couple times off steals. Williams finished off a brilliant 3rd quarter for Loughlin with a dagger three that gave the Lions a 63-46 lead.
Bishop Loughlin opened the lead up to as big as 24 in the 4th with Carrington getting back in the scoring act finishing on a nice spin in the lane early in the quarter, and hitting a tough leaner with about 3 minutes to go. Both he and Williams came up big in a big game as the Lions eased to a 76-56 win.
Williams led Loughlin with 22 points, while Carrington and Delacruz added 18 and 12 respectively. Doughty led all scorers for Mt. Vernon with 28 points, while teammate Jamal Lewis finished with 14.
There was no other way to describe it other than a near flawless performance from Bishop Loughlin. They got a big time performance from Williams, which came as no surprise to Lions Coach Ed Gonzalez.
"He is a great shooter and today was his day. One day it's Khadeen, another day it's Jayvian, and today it was Mike." Gonzalez said. "I have some good shooters and when they get good shots like Mike got today, they will go down."
It was not just a win, but a win against the 2 time defending State Champions, something that was not lost on Carrington.
"It's a big statement for us. We heard they were nationally ranked somewhere too so we wanted it even more after that." Carrington said.
Williams agreed noting that beating the 2 time champs should give their team a bit more respect but added that the win just wasn't for them.
"I hope we showed that the public schools aren't the best. The Catholic schools got good basketball too and we wanted to come out and prove that we can beat the best" Williams said.
It was a tougher scene on the Mt. Vernon side of things, but Coach Bob Cimmino gave nothing but praise to his opponents.
"They were very very good and we didn't compete early on. You cannot let a good team like that take the lead." Cimmino said. "They hit some amazing shots, a couple of them just had me shaking my head." the coach went on to add.
It was a war on the court and Loughlin came away victorious, and Cimmino summed up why he felt the game finished the way it did.
"You can't decide when you go to war, only the other country can, and today Loughlin was the other country and they decided early on, from the tip of the ball to be exact, and we just weren't ready."
IN OTHER RUCKER TOURNAMENT ACTION:
Iona Prep 83- New Rochelle 73 OT
In a game that most thought was over with Iona Prep up 66-50 with 4:52 left in the game, New Rochelle stormed back to finish the 4th on a 18-2 run to send the game into overtime.
It would've been easy to understand if the Gaels had no fight left after blowing such a big lead, but they did no such thing as Tom Capuano started the overtime session with a big three pointer that seemed to give Iona Prep back the feeling of confidence. Isaiah Ice who missed a pair of free throws that would've won the game in regulation stepped up and hit four big ones in the OT to help the Gaels outscore the Huguenots 15-5 in the extra session to take the win 83-73.
Ice led the Gaels with 26 points in the win, while Brandon Williams had 19 and Capuano added 15, 7 of which came in the OT. Joe Clarke led all scorers with 31 for New Rochelle, with Derek Dorn chipping in 16.
After the win Iona Prep Coach Vic Quirolo admitted to some doubts going into the overtime.
"I really thought we were in trouble." Quirolo said. "But I sat them down and said play your best ball now. It's a new ball game. I figure 97% of teams who blow a 16 point lead that late would lose in overtime, so I like that we hung tough and pulled it out."
The win was good enough, but to beat New Rochelle, their crosstown rivals, seemed to make it extra special for Quirolo.
"It was icing on the cake for me. I respect their program and what they do so much, that to beat them really means a lot."
Brooklyn Collegiate 42- Wadleigh 39 OT
Brooklyn Collegiate ralled back from a 5 point 4th quarter deficit to send the game into overtime, and once the overtime started Craig McKenzie came alive scoring all 8 of his points in the extra stanza to help lead the undermanned Lions to the victory.
Willie Barnes led all scorers with 11 points for Brooklyn Collegiate, while McKenzie added the big 8. Wadleigh in defeat was led by Bryan Santelises with 9 points, and Stephen Turner who chipped in 8.
Xaverian tops Curtis, 49-46
George Lambert led Xaverian with 15 points with Jamal Olorunje as high man for Curtis with 13 points.
Thurgood Marshall Academy fall to Bayside, 71-53
Brandon King scored game high 19 points for Bayside; Dalton Rodney led TMA with 10 points.
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