One home-grown champion and a couple Oneida County dead-eyes topped their respective fields in Friday’s Mirabito STOP-DWI Holiday Classic preliminary activities.
Binghamton High senior Mario Cherry was judged to be above the rest in the Dunk Contest, and cousins Nick Comenale and Andrew Surprenant put on a magnificent show to win the Three-Point Contest at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena.
Cherry was identified as No. 1 dunker, with Christ The King sophomore Rawle Alkins second and Parker Joyce of St. Michael’s College School (Toronto) third.
Sealing the top finish for 6-foot-3 Cherry was powerful, windmill-action finish of an ally-oop feed off the backboard from Patriots teammate Andre Hawkins.
“That last dunk, I didn’t think I was going to get it but somehow it went through the net,” Cherry said.
The win came in his second dunk contest, having competed in this event last winter.
“I practiced a lot, so I pretty much knew what I was going to do already,” he said.. “I was nervous when I got in because I lost last year. It turned out to be good, and there were good contestants in the contest.”
This, however, was the rare year in which the Three-Point Contest bested its companion competition — by a bunch — in terms of excitement-meter reading.
With each participating team represented by two shooters launching for one minute apiece, Long Island Lutheran’s Elijah Bailey and Devonte Green turned in a 66-point effort — a combined 22 conversions — to head the preliminary round over the New York Mills duo, which bagged 21 in similarly balanced fashion.
The teams advanced to the final — and stunningly matched 75-point totals. Leadoff men Bailey and Comenale fired in 13 apiece.
That set up an overtime session to decide the outcome, and New York Mills refused to blink. With Comenale canning 12 and Surprenant 10, the cousins prevailed by an 18-point margin.
“Obviously it’s a pretty prestigious tournament and New York Mills is just honored to be here. It’s a great time for such a small school,” Comenale said.
Surprenant said: “I wasn’t expecting much, just come out here, try our best — and this happened.”
Both acknowledged that the long ball is a critical piece of the Marauders’ offensive intentions. The two are among a handful green-lighted from beyond the arc.
“It’s our whole game. We always practice three’s,” Surprenant said.
As for the venue catering to a shooter’s touch?
“It’s pretty cool, it’s like the place where we play states,” Comenale said, likening the Arena to the Glens Falls Civic Center — in which New York Mills has made Class D state final four appearances three of the past four seasons.
The Three-Point and Dunk Contests were preceded by the Aldo Rossi Jr. Memorial Game, which pitted members of local police agencies against one another. Suffice to say suspense was left for the high school kids, as Team Black built a 25-point halftime advantage on the way to a 61-25 victory against Team Red.