basketball Edit

Final Four's Final 4 New Yorkers

The NCAA Final Four has a New York feel to it on both the men's and the women's side this year.

Stepinac HS, the CHSAA and Westchester County have generated plenty of national headlines as one of the world's most storied sports rivalry is renewed on the grandest of stages with alum RJ Davis representing North Carolina and AJ Griffin culminating his freshman year with Duke.

This marquee matchup and these last pair of games could also be the final hurrah for legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

The longtime Blue Devils coach, very much the coach of college basketball for the last few decades, announced his intentions to retire prior to the 2021-22 campaign.

Griffin, who helped lead Stepinac to a 2018 NYS Federation championship alongside Davis, is averaging 10.5 points and shooting it at a 50 percent clip from the floor, close to 50 percent from beyond the arc.

The bigger built 6-foot-6, 222-pound wing scored 18 points during the recent Elite 8 win over Arkansas and had 21 against Miami during the ACC championship, performances indicative of his rising upside and pro stock. He's projected as a Top-10 pick in this year's NBA draft.

Davis, the electrifying and high scoring guard from Elmsford, NY, erupted with a 30-point game (8-for-17 FG, 9-for-10 FT) during a dizzying 93-86 Overtime victory over No.1 Baylor in the Sweet 16. He's averaging 13.4 points, four assists and four boards as the engineer of this Tar Heels team.

Both players were the face of the Stepinac program during an illustrious recent era under Pat Massaroni. The tandem combined to win a pair of NY Archdiocesan championships in 2018 and 2020.

Griffin, with his wildly athletic plays which electrified crowds from the Westchester County Center to the prestigious Slam Dunk To The Beach in Delaware, was always a highly acclaimed recruit.

Davis, at just 6-feet and having undergone a major body transformation from his freshman to his sophomore year, didn't really solidify his high major status until his junior year.

As an undersized guard, Davis has overcome his fair share of doubters and adversaries along the journey. The brotherhood between the two former teammates continues as they find themselves on opposite sides of another unique page of this historic UNC/Duke rivalry in Saturday night's game.

Meanwhile, Stepinac has another alum in Freddy Quartlebaum on Bill Self's staff at Kansas. Widely known as "Coach Q," the Dobbs Ferry, NY native starred at Stepinac and went on to play four years at Fordham University.

Quartlebaum recently authored the book "The Positivity Tribe In The Locker Room." A tireless recruiter, the 914 area representative Quartlebaum has been instrumental in the development of several NBA players during his career in the Division 1 coaching ranks.

Emily Engstler
Emily Engstler

No.1 Louisville features a defensive backbone in Emily Engstler, the New Heights AAU product. An All American during a high school career at Christ The King and St. Francis Prep, the Queens native had 16 rebounds and six steals during Louisville's Elite 8 defeat of Michigan.