We have two stories for you this morning from the pages of Tuesday’s Journal News. First, my colleague Mike Zacchio — whose quick thinking Sunday afternoon resulted in great video of Khalil Edney’s 60-foot heave, a video that has racked up 20,000 hits on YouTube — wrote about the crazy Monday for New Rochelle, and especially Edney, the buzzer-beating hero.
Here’s Mike’s story, in full:
NEW ROCHELLE — When New Rochelle senior Khalil Edney checked his Twitter account on Sunday morning, he had 462 followers. One day, and one big shot later, Edney’s account has catapulted to 2,257 followers … and growing.
That’s the kind of social media attention you receive after you have the likes of ESPN, the self-proclaimed “worldwide leader in sports,” calling his 60-foot game-winning heave the “craziest ending to a basketball game ever.”
Needing to go the length of the court, Edney inbounded the ball with 2.9 seconds left and his team trailing by two points to seven-time defending champion Mount Vernon in the Section 1 Class AA title game. His pass was intercepted, but Edney almost immediately intercepted it back, and his heave, released with 0.1 left on the clock, beat the Knights 61-60, triggering pandemonium.
Since sinking what is now being recognized nationally as “The New Ro Miracle” or quite bluntly, “The Shot,” Edney has been become an overnight sensation, making appearances along with his coach and teammates on programs such as ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and networks including CBS, NBC, FOX and ESPN.
“I did every local channel there is,” Edney said before Monday’s practice.
As for the improbable shot, Edney said “Everything happens for a reason. I’m just glad it happened.”
Edney will make an appearance on CNN at 8 a.m. before Tuesday’s Class AA state regional semifinal against Binghamton at Purchase College, SUNY, New Rochelle Athletic Director Steve Young said.
While the publicity has been great for the New Rochelle program, it complicates matters for the team.
The Huguenots had just one day to practice between games, and in the midst of all the attention, the team is trying to ground itself for Tuesday’s Class AA state regional semifinal.
During the media craze that has become Edney’s life in the past 48 hours, the senior has drawn celebrity attention from the likes of New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith, Duke guard Seth Curry, and Super Bowl champion and New Rochelle alum Ray Rice.
In a segment on SportsCenter on Monday, Rice asked for Edney’s autograph on a jersey to add to his his basement.
“Khalil, I need that jersey,” Rice said. “I need that autograph, man.”
Could Rice, whose plaque is in New Rochelle’s “distinguished alumni” hallway, have Edney join him on that wall?
“I’d be honored,” Edney said.
“New Rochelle has put out some amazing people. Great athletes, a lot of good people in business,” he said. “It would be awesome to be a part of that wall.”
• • • • •
Rick Carpiniello also wrote a column about a question that has gone unanswered until now: How do the Huguenots regroup? It will be a tall order for the newly-minted Section 1 champs, who will had roughly 48 hours to prepare for this afternoon’s regional semifinal against Binghamton.
New Rochelle believes it is ready, but we won’t truly know until 4 p.m. this afternoon. Here’s why Edney and co. believe they’ll be prepared to play:
NEW ROCHELLE — Often in sports, the most memorable moments are final. Celebrate and walk off into the sunset.
But other times, the memorable moment just means there is more work to be done, that the moment just provided you with an opportunity — and if you don’t take advantage of that opportunity, the moment might lose some of its luster.
Think the Mets winning Game 6 the way they did in the 1986 World Series, then losing Game 7. Or the “Miracle on Ice” U.S. Olympic hockey team beating Russia, and then failing to beat Finland two days later to win the 1980 gold.
So, yeah, what New Rochelle did on Sunday at the County Center — beating seven-time defending Section 1 Class AA champ Mount Vernon on Khalil Edney’s just-barely buzzer-beater — was amazing, almost indescribable.
That it has gone beyond viral, swept the players and coach Rasaun Young from TV show to TV show Monday, and caused a media storm at the school — reporters who couldn’t find New Rochelle without a GPS descended in their satellite-dished vehicles — remains mind-boggling.
But New Ro had to get back to work, Young even tweeting, “I just want to coach basketball!!!”
The Huguenots almost immediately go back into the fire, vs. Binghamton at Purchase College Tuesday at 4 p.m., in the first round of the state tournament.
So on Monday, Young told his players prior to their 3:15 practice that it ends here (though Edney still had a CNN spot to do Tuesday). He wanted to clean up the missed free throws (he said his team shot 40 percent Sunday) and the turnovers, and to refocus.
“The kids are enjoying it now,” Young said. “They accomplished something great (Sunday). So they can enjoy it until we start practice. After that, it’s over with. Now we focus and start thinking about Binghamton and what we need to do.
“After (that) I don’t want to talk to anybody else about it. We need to lock in, like we’ve always said, and focus in. We’re not done yet.”
Joe Clarke, the team’s best player, left a media staging area and headed to practice.
“Coach told us, this is it,” Clarke said. “Once the clock hits 3:15, it’s practice time and we can’t worry about that win no more. We got the gold ball, we’re happy that we got the gold ball, but we want something bigger.
“If we think about this one too much, we’ll probably let up (against Binghamton) and we’ll lose. We got our celebration after the County Center win, and now it’s back to work.”
Edney, of course, has become the rock star for his fling at the buzzer that touched off simultaneous celebrations — Mount Vernon believing the toss was late and that it had won another title, New Ro thinking it beat the buzzer and that it had just stunned the local kings of basketball.
His only concern about the media tour was his sprained ankle, which forced him to miss the semifinal, because he’d been on his feet so much of Monday. He said it was sore.
“I’m not really (concerned),” he said about a potential hangover from Sunday. “We’ve got a well-grounded coach. He’s been in situations like this before. I’ve been in situations like this before, winning a state championship in football. So getting my feet back on the ground won’t be a problem.”