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John Moriello's NYSSWA blog
Thursday, March 10, 2011: Hinds, Yacoubou share Mr. Basketball honor
   Leading off today: There is a tie for New York's highest boys basketball honor for the second time in three years. Jabarie Hinds, a senior guard at Mount Vernon, and Long Island Lutheran wing player Achraf Yacoubou are the co-winners of the Mr. Basketball Award, The Journal News reported Wednesday.

   The Basketball Coaches Association of New York presents the award each year. This year's other finalists for the award were Rice's Jermaine Sanders and Abraham Lincoln's Shaquille Stokes.

   Brandon Triche (Jamesville-DeWitt) and Lance Stephenson (Abraham Lincoln) shared the award in 2009. Tobias Harris of Half Hollow Hills West was the 2010 recipient. In 2006, Jonathan Mitchell became the first Mount Vernon play to be selected Mr. Basketball.

   Hinds has signed to play next season for West Virginia; Yacoubou is headed for Villanova.

   NYC finals set: For pure name-recognition value, you can't do much better than these finalists for the New York City large-school boys basketball finalists: Rice, Christ the King, Boys & Girls and Abraham Lincoln.

   Those are Sunday's combatants in the CHSAA and PSAL championship games.

   Cincinnati recruit Jermaine Sanders scored 11 points in a 90-second stretch of the third quarter and finished with 30 for the night as Rice (19-9) edged Holy Cross 55-52 in the semifinals Wednesday at St. John's University.

   The Raiders will be paired against Christ the King, the defending Federation champion in Class AA. Rice, which won its sixth Federation crown in 16 seasons in 2009, will be looking to avenge a 67-54 loss to CTK in their Feb. 5 meeting.

   The Royals (21-6) escaped the semifinals with a 70-67 victory over St. Raymond on Wednesday as point guard Corey Edwards hit a big 3-pointer with 31 seconds left and added two key free throws in overtime. Edwards scored 10 of his 16 points over a stretch starting late in the fourth quarter and extending through OT, and Omar Calhoun contributed a game-high 23 points.

   The PSAL final pairs up Lincoln and Boys & Girls, the defending champ, for the third time in four years. Lincoln swept their regular-season series this winter.

   Freshman guard Isaiah Whitehead scored four of Lincoln's last six points and ripped down a clutch rebound in the closing moments as the Railsplitters (28-2) edged Cardozo 56-54 at City College of New York. Senior Shaquille Stokes scored 18 of his 22 points in the first half for Lincoln, which has won three Federation championships since 2003.

   Boys & Girls advanced by defeating Wings Academy 53-48 with tight fourth-quarter defense and 22 points from Malik Nichols. The Kangaroos welcomed back guard Mike Taylor after the Rutgers recruit sat out six games due to academic issues.

   The final is Sunday at 1 p.m. at Madison Square Garden.

   NYC finals set: There were two big comebacks from first quarter deficits Wednesday as Section 5 held post-sectional qualifiers for spots in the NYSPHSAA quarterfinals at Blue Cross Arena.

   When Irondequoit gave up the first 13 points of the Class AA game, it looked as though the Eagles were going to end up on the wrong end of the final score against their new No. 1 sports rival. Rush-Henrietta had pounded the Eagles 46-7 in the qualifier for the state football playoffs back on Nov. 5 and the basketball teams had traded road victories during the Monroe County League season.

   "It's a great team," 6-foot-8 senior center Josiah Heath said. "Most of the time, it's a knockout blow."

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       It turns out it takes more than a great start to put the Eagles on the canvas. Heath piled up 24 points the rest of the way and finished with 17 rebounds to down R-H 68-57. The Royal Comets got 33 points from Mandell Thomas on 14-for-28 shooting.

       Irondequoit (17-5) advances to a Saturday night game against Section 6 champion Jamestown for the right to travel to Glens Falls for the state semifinals.

       Earlier Wednesday, Bishop Kearney reeled off the first seven points and went up by 14 later in the first quarter but Aquinas rallied to a 59-54 victory to down the Kings for the third time this season and advance in Class A.

       Alex Baron led the balanced Little Irish with 15 points, while Phil Valenti scored 12 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and had five assists. Sophomore center Chinonso Obokoh from Nigeria scored 14 points and grabbed 22 rebounds for the Kings.

       "These guys are all about winning," Aquinas coach Mike Grosodonia said. "It's all they care about. They don't care about points and stats. They bought in to it. We talked about it at the first practice: sacrifice. They may not score 20 but they score 8 or 10 or 12."

       Aquinas plays Buffalo East on Saturday in Rochester in the state tournament opener. A win there puts the Little Irish two victories away from becoming the first school to win the state basketball and football tournaments in the same school year.    Baron is the nephew of University of Rhode Island coach Jim Baron, who spent one season directing the varsity in the last 1970s when the Little Irish were generally doormats in the City-Catholic League.

       "He stays in touch and knows my schedule," Alex Baron said. "He calls and we talk about how his games are going and how my games are going. He'll say that was Aquinas was his first coaching job and all that. I tell him we're trying to get our first state championship. We're working our butts off for it."

       Mattituck advances in dramatic fashion: Steve Ascher tipped in a missed shot by Cody Huntley just before the buzzer to lift Mattituck past Malverne 68-67 in the first round of the NYSPHSAA Class B tournament at SUNY Old Westbury.

       Malverne had won the previous four Long Island championships. Mattituck advances to the state quarterfinals vs. Burke Catholic on Saturday at Farmingdale State.

       "It's just amazing. It's something I've been fooling around with in practice," Ascher said of the tap-in after Huntley's unsuccessful follow of Ascher's missed free throw with four seconds left. "We just didn't want to lose."

       Football commitment: Canisius High offensive guard Corey Madlock became the first member of the University at Buffalo's 2012 recruiting class The Buffalo News reported.

       The 6-foot-4, 280-pound Madlock also drew interest from Syracuse and Bowling Green. He made 28 tackles, three sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery as a defensive lineman last fall.

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