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Sunday, May 10, 2015: Ex-POY Mookie Jones notches his biggest win

   Leading off today: A good story gone bad may just yet end up with a happy ending.

   Just over eight years ago, Theodore Todd Jones IV -- aka "Mookie" -- helped Peekskill blow through the field to win a NYSPHSAA boys Class A basketball championship, collecting state player of the year honors for himself along the way.

   With dozens of college offers to choose from, Jones signed with Syracuse and embarked upon a journey that seemed destined to culminate in a decade-long pro career and unimaginable riches.

   Somehow, the pieces never came together. Problems on and off the court (including injury) kept the smooth-shooting swingman from realizing his potential with the Orange. By the time his eligibility expired, Jones had played just 322 minutes in 46 games -- all as a reserve -- and scored a meager 202 points.

   Adding insult to injury, he was banished from school in a disciplinary matter nearly two semesters short of a degree.

   Reporter Donna Ditota told the rest of Jones' story on Syracuse.com, and it wasn't pretty -- evicted from his apartment, forced to apply for food stamps and living a semi-nomadic life of menial jobs in Syracuse while pleading with university administrators for one more chance to return to the classroom even after his basketball eligibility expired.

   This difficult chapter in the young man's life presumably ends today. Given his chance to return to SU, Jones enrolled in January 2014 to begin knocking off his final 25 credits. He will cross the stage today to receive a bachelor's degree in child and family studies.

   "I think people have a perception about him based on how he exited the university," SU associate director of student-athlete development Joe Fields said. "But he has been unbelievable on his journey to getting his degree and attaining a new level of maturity. I'm very proud of him and what he's accomplished."

   Said coach Jim Boeheim: "Obviously, the kid messed up to some degree. But he was treated very harshly by the system, he got a very tough punishment. And to be able to come back and get back into school is hard to do. To keep going is hard to do. He's overcome a lot. To finish his degree is a great story."

   Track highlights: Mount Vernon senior Rai Benjamin, edged at the tape Friday in the 100-meter final of the Loucks Games, cruised to the 400 title in :46.67, then won the 400 hurdles in :51.71 Saturday to register the No. 2 times ever at the meet. The top hurdle time (:51.40) still belongs to Derrick Adkins, the Olympic champion who presented Benjamin's trophy to him.

   With Benjamin scoring all its points, Mount Vernon edged Newburgh 28-27 for the boys championship. Rush-Henrietta (46 points) took the girls title on the strength of two Section 5 seconds by Sammy Watson. She clocked 2:08.73 in the 800, a record :53.59 in the 400 and combined with Ceara Watson, Rene Thomas and Tori Thompson for a 3:47.65 showing in the 1,600 relay that erased a mark set by Rochester East in 1986.

  
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   "I want to try to get to two minutes flat in the 800 and around 52 or 51 seconds in the 400," Watson said.

   Mariah Mays of Rome Free Academy set a Section 3 record in the shot put (46-4.25) during the Outlaws Invite at Central Valley Academy on Friday. She broke the record of 45-7 set by Syracuse Henninger's Nikki Thomas in 1997.

   Mays recently set the sectional discus mark of 148-2.

   Nationally noteworthy: Bend (Ore.) Summit senior Matthew Maton has become the sixth U.S. schoolboy ever to run a four-minute mile.

   Racing Friday at the Oregon Twilight at Hayward Field in Eugene, he finished in 3:59.38 to move to No. 3 on the all-time U.S. high school list.

   In recent times, Alan Webb has gone 3:53.43 for the record and Lucas Verzbicas went sub-four in 2011.

   Maton, who ran a 4:03 mile as a junior last sprint and is running independently as a senior, is a University of Oregon recruit.

   Quite the duel: Shea Irish threw his second baseball no-hitter of the season to lift Warrensburg to a 1-0 Adirondack League baseball win over Bolton. Irish fanned 16, including striking out the side in the first, third and sixth innings.

   Bolton's Josh Curri-Brimhall took the loss despite allowing just one hit.

   Extra points: The Avon boys lacrosse team is expected to cancel the rest of its season after injuries reduced the Section 5 school's roster below the minimum number of players, the Livingston County News reported. The squad, 1-11 this season, is down to nine healthy players.


  
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