Here is my colleague James Carlucci’s story on the Class D semifinal between Martin Luther King Jr. and Clark Academy.
WHITE PLAINS Top-seeded Martin Luther King Jr. used its height inside and speed in transition to control the tempo in its 61-23 win over No. 4 Clark Academy in the Section 1 Class D semifinals Monday at the County Center.
In the first half, the Tigers ran off 19 straight points to take a 28-3 lead. Martin Luther King Jr. coach Scott Green said the key was establishing an up-tempo pace with defense.
“Our defense is our offense,” Green said. “Once we’re able to do that, then it kind of opens up the floor for us.”
“We had the height advantage, so our main goal was for our guards to get the ball to our big men and in transition, and that’s what we did,” Griffin said.
Senior Jermaine Shaw, a four-year varsity player, had seven points and five rebounds and provided an intimidating presence inside. Green called Shaw the team’s anchor and said the Tigers go as he goes.
Martin Luther King Jr. will play No. 2 Biondi in the championship game on Friday at 3 p.m.
Shaw said it means a lot to return to the Class D final after not getting there the previous two years.
“My first year here, we came to the (championship game) and lost by one or two points,” Shaw said. “I was really upset, came back hungry — 10 times hungrier. Next two years, we had a good team, but it wasn’t good enough. The team we got now, it just became like a family and we’re clicking. It’s made my game and everybody else’s game easier.”
Clark coach Anthony Gaines said the experience of playing at the County Center would be beneficial since most of his players are freshmen. Clark outscored the Tigers in the fourth quarter, 12-8.
“Once they realized that they could compete at this level on this court, they felt comfortable,” Gaines said. “They know what it takes for them to get back here.”
Shaquel Davis led Clark with 11 points, including three 3-pointers. Calvin Walters had four points and a team-high six rebounds. Shane McCalla had five points.
“Once (Davis) got into a rhythm, he’s a good shooter,” Gaines said. “He just needed to be confident. I look forward for him the next couple of years hitting those shots again.”
The Tigers and Biondi split their regular-season series 1-1, each team successfully defending its home court.
Photos courtesy of Matthew Brown/The Journal News. For the entire gallery click here.