So, the local basketball season is down to one game – or is it? And regardless of what happens this afternoon, is there one person here who thought New Rochelle would be the last team left standing?
If you did, please get in touch. I have some investments I’d like to discuss.
Seriously, New Ro had already accomplished a great deal just getting to this point. The Huguenots were 2-6, then 8-9. But that is all erased now, not quite a figment of our imaginations, but certainly a distant memory. They are vastly improved and they are playing or the program’s first state championship. Frankly, that’s all you need to know.
Although conventional wisdom and popular opinion suggest otherwise, I actually believe New Rochelle has a shot today against Bishop Kearney. More than a shot. I think New Ro will win. The greatest difference between these Huguenots from December and January until now is they know what they are. They press, they rely on a strong bench and they lean heavily on Joe Clarke. That will either be enough – or not. They won’t deviate. And they won’t be rattled.
After two viewings. Kearney is entirely different. New Ro may not have a Division I player on its roster. Kearney has at least two, maybe three. But Kearney plays almost an AAU style of basketball. Has it aggregated enough talent to overcome New Rochelle’s mounting commitment to team play, particularly on defense? It will be fascinating to watch.
Here’s a deeper look at today’s game:
Class AA state championship
New Rochelle (16-9) vs. Section 5’s Bishop Kearney (16-7)
Where: Glens Falls Civic Center
When: Sunday, 3:15 p.m.
Key players: New Rochelle
Joe Clarke (6-3), Sr., F; Khalil Edney (6-4), Sr., F; Derek Dorn (6-0), Jr., G. Bishop Kearney Chinonso Obokoh (6-10), Sr., F; Thomas Bryant (6-8), So., F; Antwoine Anderson (6-1), Sr., G.
Outlook: If Saturday represented a big size mismatch for New Ro, this is a gargantuan one. Kearney features three players 6-foot-8 or taller up front, including the Syracuse-bound Obokoh and Bryant, one of the Top 50-rated sophomores in the country. Those two will post a threat in the paint, especially blocking and altering shots with their length. But are the Kings tough enough? And can they handle the defensive pressure? Opponents have come unglued against New Ro in the postseason. Like Saturday vs. Northport, Huguenots know their best chance to win is based on their guards preventing Kearney from pounding the ball inside. The difference between Kearney and Northport is that Anderson is athletic and skilled enough to compete. Keep in mind: Mount Vernon beat Kearney on Jan. 6, leading throughout the 71-61 victory. Obokoh didn’t play in that one and had returned as a key piece on a balanced Kearney team.
Up next: The winner will be the NYSPHSAA representative at the state Federation tournament. It will meet CHSAA champ Christ the King at 6:45 p.m. on Friday, March 22 at the Times Union Center in Albany.