My story for Monday’s Journal News focuses on four seniors from Rockland, all of who will return to the County Center as 1,000-point scorers and will be among the biggest stars of Championship Week.
CLICK HERE to read the story about Tappan Zee’s Luke McLaughlin, Clarkstown South’s Conor McGuinness and Spring Valley’s Rickey McGill and Kai Mitchell. They have known each other and played both against and with each other since they were barely in kindergarten.
Now in the final stage of stellar four-year varsity careers, all four added their names to Rockland’s all-time scoring list as seniors. McGill has a legitimate chance to finish as high as No. 2 behind Pearl River’s Brendan McManus.
There are a couple things in the story worth emphasizing:
1. Despite the fact that Rockland schools account for just 11 of the 76 teams playing Section 1 boys basketball, the county’s schools have snatched up about 30 percent of the Class AA and A berths at the County Center since 2010. Tappan Zee (5), Spring Valley (3), Clarkstown South (3), North Rockland (2) and Pearl River (1) have all been represented in that time span, and that doesn’t even include Albertus Magnus, which won Class B in 2011 and 2012.
2. Individually, Rockland players aren’t shabby either, as McGuinness and McGill point out in the story. Last year, three Rockland players (Mitchell, McGill and Kevin Degnan, who won Mr. Basketball) were honored as first-team all-LHBCA by the coaches. Well, the coaches have yet to vote on the first-teamers or Mr. Basketball yet, but the four players above are all legitimate candidates.
Mitchell and McGill are Section 1’s only Division I commits and play for the Class A favorite, a team on a 14-game winning streak; McGuinness led a team with four new starters to the County Center and is committed to Division II Adelphi; and McLaughlin, a undecided Division II recruit, also led a team with four new starters to the County Center. He has averaged 26 points, 14 rebounds and 5 assists per game this postseason.
And, at least in my opinion, McGill enters this week as the favorite for Mr. Basketball.
“I feel like we should be recognized,” said McGill, who averaged 23.8 ppg. “Rockland is mad small compared to Westchester. There are a lot of kids over there, but I feel like we’re the best four in the section.”
I’ll have predictions for each of Monday’s games posted in the morning. Here are my favorites, dark horses, team previews and MVP and gold-ball picks for each class.
The games are set to begin at 3 p.m., and I’ll be there at the County Center with plenty more coverage.