UPDATED, 10:12 p.m.: FYI: Joe Clarke and New Rochelle coach Rasaun Young are scheduled to appear LIVE on SportsCenter Monday at 12:15 p.m. They will be taped at a studio in Manhattan.
WEST POINT — They had turned the ball over twice and allowed three offensive rebounds, all in the last minute of a one-possession game. Under that troubling scenario, New Rochelle would have been justified being a little despondent trailing by two with 10.2 seconds to play.
Instead, the players who once connected to send the football team to Syracuse found one another to book the basketball team’s trip to Glens Falls. Khalil Edney fed Joe Clarke in the post and the senior delivered a three-point play with seven seconds remaining. The Huguenots won again, beating Kingston 63-60 in Sunday afternoon’s Class AA state regional final at a pulsating Christl Arena.
“How these guys were able to focus and execute it? That was the most impressive thing to me,” New Rochelle coach Rasaun Young said. “You have high school kids. They were so bummed out and thinking, ‘How are we going to win this game?’ But they ran that play to a T.”
Young’s brother, assistant coach Rashiem Young, concocted the play during a timeout. The Huguenots (14-9) had fallen behind 60-58 on a basket by Jordan DeCicco off an offensive rebound with 44 seconds remaining. Kingston (18-3) then missed the front end of two one-and-ones, the second following an errant inbound pass by New Rochelle senior Terrence Holden.
A few seconds earlier, Edney had the ball stolen after he grabbed a defensive rebound.
“In our minds, the play is dead. We just have to get back to it,” Edney said. “That’s what we did.”
Following the timeout with 10.2 remaining, junior Derek Dorn, who had scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half, inbounded to Edney at the top of the key. He saw Clarke seal his defender on the block and dumped it to him. Clarke spun and scored as he was fouled with 7.0 to play. He calmly sank the ensuing free throw for a 61-60 lead.
Ironically, that was the same score as New Rochelle’s dramatic 61-60, buzzer-beating win over Mount Vernon in the Section 1 final a week earlier. This time, Clarke added two more free throws and the Huguenots survived Kingston’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer.
“We were in this situation many times,” Dorn said. “We just knew we could do it.”
“These guys, they didn’t quit — again,” Young said.
Clarke finished with 31 points and seven rebounds. He scored 15 in the second quarter when New Rochelle took its initial lead, one it mostly held until Kingston rallied to regain it behind Justin Robinson and Zach Short, who each scored 14 points.
Edney contributed 10 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists off the bench. That last pass continued New Rochelle’s unlikely run from a .500 record to the final four, its first trip there since 2005.
The Huguenots will play Northport (Section 11) at 12:30 on Saturday in the state semifinals.
“I never thought we would make it to Glens Falls,” Clarke said. “At 9-9 and now we’re here. It’s just one of the best stories you can tell. We were a 9-9 team that made it to Glens Falls. Anything’s possible.”