Leading off today:
The shine has come off the Newburgh Free Academy vs. Mount Vernon rivalry in a hurry.
The schools played in the NYSPHSAA Class AA tournament last night for the fifth time in six seasons. Mount Vernon won the first two and Newburgh the next two, and it had become one of the best intersectional rivalries in the state in any sport, both because of the stakes and the pure entertainment value of the games. It took a big step forward two years ago when Will Bouton let loose with a 55-footer at the buzzer to give the Goldbacks a stunning 71-70 win over Mount Vernon.
Tuesday night, however, was no contest. Senior guards Jabarie Hinds (20 points) and Khalid Samuels (18) combined for 38 points and 13 assists in a Knights runaway, a 72-49 rout of NFA to advance Mount Vernon to the state quarterfinals. Hinds scored eight straight second-quarter points and 12 in the period to help build a 36-24 halftime lead.
It avenged last year's 62-53 loss.
The lopsided victory, however, wasn't the story of the week. Rather, Sunday's story in the Times Herald-Record is what people have been talking about all week. The newspaper painted an unflattering picture of Newburgh's basketball program, reporting that four of the top six players from the past two seasons, including the 2009 state championship squad, did not graduate from high school and only one is in college.
The paper reported allegations of favoritism shown toward players, casting coach Frank Dinnocenzio and administrators in a very unfavorable light. According to the story, players routinely cut classes yet remained eligible to suit up for games.
Damon Cousar, Patrick Johnson and Mike McLeod, who all played big roles on the Goldbacks' state championship team, didn't graduate last June because they didn't pass Regents exams. Devon McMillan, a standout for Newburgh last year, also didn't graduate, losing his scholarship to Hofstra in the process. He's now attending Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts with the intention of playing for Fordham University next season.
Bouton is the success story thus far, graduating last spring and recently transferring to Pepperdine University while pursuing a career in movies. Point guard Marcus Henderson graduated last June and is attending Queen City Prep in Charlotte, N.C., to beef up his grades while playing for 1984 Newburgh grad George Davis.
"If Marcus wasn't down here, he might be in the streets," Davis told the paper. "They win a state championship, and the kids are left on the streets. As