Here is colleague Jermaine Dennis’ story on the Class D semifinal between Biondi and Greenburgh.
WHITE PLAINS Second-seeded Biondi made this win personal against third-seeded Greenburgh Academy.
The Lions remembered what happened last season after their Class D championship-game win over the Crusaders. They took their first step toward reclaiming the title that was stripped from them, beating the Crusaders 54-36 Monday at the County Center.
“Our goal this year is to win the gold ball,” Biondi coach Bob Delle Bovi said. “We won the gold ball last year and (Section 1) took it away from us. That is a part of our motivation.”
Biondi defeated Greenburgh Academy in the 2012 Class D sectional final, 69-59. Hours after celebrating their advancement to the state playoffs, the Lions were notified that they had been disqualified for using an ineligible player in the game.
That player was Lance McDowdell. The two-sport star was ruled ineligible when Section 1 learned he had played football for Mount Vernon High School in the fall, which conflicts with the state regulation that prohibits athletes from playing for two schools during the same academic year.
“It felt good to get this win,” senior guard Derrick Alverez said. “They took something away from us last year, and I just want to win it all again with my family.”
The Lions (10-9) started fast with an 8-0 run, forcing Greenburgh Academy coach Jean Marcellus to call a timeout to calm the nerves of his players. But the team never seemed to shake its pregame jitters.
The Lions were led by junior Ronald Garcia (pictured below, left) and his 24-point, 12-rebound performance. The 6-foot-3 forward’s paint presence was too much for the Crusaders (4-14), especially in the first half, when he outrebounded counterpart Shamale Lawson nine to three.
“It feels great to win,” Garcia said. “And now we are in the finals and they are not.”
The game was relatively close at the half with Biondi up 25-18, but the Lions did not allow Greenburgh Academy to remain that close for long. In the third quarter, Biondi turned up the intensity on defense and outscored the Crusaders 16-4. Senior Johnnie Gray scored seven of his 13 points during the period.
Lawson led Greenburgh Academy with eight points. Taylor Cummings (pictured above, right) and David McKenith each added seven, including McKenith’s four-point play.
“I thought we started to become cognizant of where their shooters were,” Delle Bovi said. “We were trying to limit second- and third-chance scoring by boxing out, and we did a good job of recognizing where there shooters are and stopping them.”
Photos courtesy of Seth Harrison/The Journal News. Click here for the entire gallery.