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Monday, March 3, 2014: Mount Vernon win sets up renewal of NFA rivalry

   Leading off today: You may not be able to rewrite history, but you can move beyond the bad memories. In that sense, consider it "mission accomplished" for the Mount Vernon boys basketball team.

   Nearly a year to the day after losing the Section 1 championship to New Rochelle in arguably the most amazing fashion ever in New York basketball, Mount Vernon found redemption Sunday in the form of a gritty 47-39 win vs. Spring Valley for the 2014 Class AA crown.

   Akeem Krubally paced the Knights with 19 points, five rebounds and four steals. And Devonte Banner, whose ill-fated toss in the closing seconds last year vs. New Rochelle precipitated the unthinkable loss, came up big with eight points and five rebounds.

   "It means a lot," Banner told The Journal News. "I couldn't have finished my high school career without this. And we're not done yet. We're going to keep trying and go on and on and try to win a state championship."

   The sectional championship was No. 14 for coach 20th-year coach Bob Cimmino, who improved to 426-74 after his 500th career game.

   Next up for Mount Vernon will be an opponent forever linked to the Knights thanks to another miraculous buzzer shot -- Will Bouton's 55-foot prayer to give Newburgh a 71-70 win in the 2009 NYSPHSAA quarterfinals.

   Newburgh and Mount Vernon, both 20-1, will face off Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at SUNY New Paltz with a place in the state quarterfinals vs. Union-Endicott on the line.

   As noted by The Times Herald-Record, one of New York's better intersectional rivalries began in 2006 with Mount Vernon beating Newburgh 62-60 in the quarterfinals, and then Newburgh surrendered a 13-point lead and lost 58-56 the next season. Bouton's dramatic buzzer-beater gave NFA the win in '09 and then Newburgh squared the series in 2010 with a 62-53 victory.

   The last playoff battle was a 72-49 Mount Vernon win in the first round in 2011.

   More basketball: Nichols completed its improbable run to the Monsignor Martin Association boys championship with a 49-43 win over Bishop Timon-St. Jude for the school's third Manhattan Cup.

   MVP Cam Lewis scored 18 points and Chris Miner scored 20 in the first game after Nichols' 57-50 stunner over Canisius in the semifinals.

   By winning the title, Nichols -- traditionally a Class B school in the league and in state rankings -- qualified to represent Western New York in Class A of the state CHSAA tournament. With Nichols moving up, Lancaster St. Mary's slid into the Class B berth for the CHSAA playoffs despite losing to Timon in the MMA semis.

   Following up: One of the more epic battles of the weekend came Saturday at the Glens Falls Civic Center, where Scotia-Glenville defeated the Troy boys 77-75 in double overtime for the Section 2 Class A championship.

   Joe Cremo finished with 26 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, and Mike Palleschi, Alex Sausville and Dom LeMorta scored 12 points apiece.

   Scotia-Glenville came into the game ranked No. 1 in the

  
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state and Troy was No. 3. With the next-highest ranked team still in NYSPHSAA contention rated just ninth (Rochester East), Scotia vs. Troy was presumed by some to be a de facto state final.

   "No one was going to go down easy in this game," Scotia-Glenville coach Jim Giammattei told The Daily Gazette. "In the locker room before the game it was, 'If you want this, you've got to fight for it.' We knew how it was going to be."

   Troy rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to tie it at 60-60 on a 3-pointer by Dyaire Holt with :17 left. Connor Nicoll's two free throws with :18.4 to go brought on the second overtime.

   Troy took a 75-72 lead on Jack McLaren's three-point play, and Cremo answered with a layup. Troy's next possession ended when Cremo blocked a shot. Moments later, Scott Stopera was fouled while attempting a 3-pointer and he made all the free throws with :05.3 left.

   "Before my first one, coach asked me, 'Do you want a timeout to get a breather?'" Stopera told the paper. "I told him, 'No way. I want to make these right now.' It was my turn to shine."

   Hockey semifinals set: Junior Nate Walker's 20th goal of the season, a power-play tally with 3:00 to go in regulation, helped lift Ithaca past Niagara-Wheatfield in the NYSPHSAA Division I ice hockey quarterfinals Sunday in Lansing.

   Ithaca led 3-0 after two periods, and Walker's goal made the score 4-2, and Troy Pulli cut the lead in half with a goal with 1:38 left.

   The Little Red will move on to the state semifinals for the first time in seven years. Ithaca will play Scarsdale on Saturday at the Utica War Memorial, followed by Massena vs. Fairport.

   More to come: I still have a few leftover items from the weekend that I want to get to, including recaps from bowling and gymnastics, so I'll be back with another blog entry Monday night.


  
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