Leading off today:
Despite what it may look like on paper, the future is now for the Bishop Kearney boys basketball team.
The Kings have been starting four juniors -- in fact, five juniors took the court to begin the second half on Saturday in the state quarterfinals -- and would seem to be setting themselves up nicely for an addition to the school trophy case in 2010.
But coach Jon Boon says too much can happen between now and then, so this weekend in Glens Falls is all that matters at this juncture. Having dispatched defending state champion Olean over the weekend at SUNY Brockport, Kearney (22-3) will take on Broadalbin-Perth in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association semifinals Friday night. The winner plays Saturday against Malverne or Binghamton Seton Catholic for the Class B championship.
"We don't know what's going to happen a year from now," Boon said. "Let's make the most of what we have in front of us right now. It's easy to look ahead and see that we have all these juniors coming back, but two of them that are Division I football players and one already been offered by lots of big schools. So you don't know what is going to happen in a year."
Kearney starts 6-foot-9 senior Patrick Coyle at center. The rest of the lineup consists of Troy James on the point and a 6-3 trio of players who move inside and out: James Taylor, Blair Roberts and Roderick Gray. Taylor made the most noise on offense during the Section 5 tournament, but Gray took over down the stretch against Olean.
Olean cut BK's 28-16 lead to 40-39 to go before Gray scored on a lay-in with 4:30 to play, added a short jumper and cashed in a rebound to make it 47-41 with 2:51 to go. He shot 4-for-4 in the first half and finished the night with 21 points and five rebounds.
He works extremely hard, does everything you ask him to do and doesn't question it," Boon said. "The whole team is great that way. They work very hard and it's nice for them to reap the benefits from all their hard work."
The job starts and end with defense. With Gray and Roberts particularly fluid in the movement, the Kings can be relentless in trapping the ball on the defensive end of the floor.Olean turned the ball over only 12 times, but the Huskies rarely found themselves with unchallenged looks at the bucket from inside or out.
"The coach likes to say we know we can score on offense," said Gray, a fourth-year varsity player. "But we've just got to worry about defense. If we play defense, we'll get our chances to score. . . . We're moving every time the ball moves so we don't give up an uncontested shot."
And that's a beatiful sight for the coach.
"Preach it all you want but if they don't see the results you're not going to get them to play with that effort," Boon said. "They feed off the defense. Defense leads to fast