Boys basketball: Mount Vernon gets back at New Rochelle

Boys basketball: Mount Vernon gets back at New Rochelle


Boys basketball: Mount Vernon gets back at New Rochelle



It couldn’t be like last year because it wasn’t the title game and it wasn’t at the County Center and, well, because it just couldn’t be.

This was about nine miles quieter, and it won’t make anybody a celebrity, and it won’t draw national attention — or even make a lot of waves locally.

Mount Vernon’s boys basketball team got a small measure of revenge against New Rochelle on Thursday with a 46-40 Section 1 Class AA quarterfinal victory.

It was a scrap so typical of the rivalry. And just so much different from the buzzer-beater nearly a year ago that made shocking champs of the Huguenots while the Knights celebrated what they thought was their eighth straight title and 12th in 13 seasons.

“It just seemed that we really needed to win tonight, because if you don’t win, you’re unleashing a lot of the same stuff that you wanted to leave in the 2012-13 year,” Mount Vernon coach Bob Cimmino said. “We’re spoiled. Our fans are spoiled. Our kids are spoiled.

“I think Bill Gates says that ‘Success is a lousy teacher.’ And we learned that last year, and we tried to reinforce that the whole year. There’s nothing — nothing — that comes easily.”

That said, the Knights (18-1) will go to the County Center for the 20th time in Cimmino’s 20 seasons as coach. They will play Mahopac in a semifinal Thursday with a chance to go to a 15th consecutive AA championship game.

Mount Vernon’s unmatched resume magnified last winter’s upset a hundred fold.

Devonte Banner took the win calmly. The ball was briefly in his hands in the final seconds of that fabled game last year; then it was out, and the Knights were celebrating; then New Rochelle was celebrating.

“It was real tough last year,” said Banner, who had 10 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals Thursday. “I just used that as fuel to inspire me to get better. I knew we were going to see them again in the playoffs, so I’m just glad to come out with the win.

“It says we’re a tough team to beat. If it’s a tough game, we stay together as a team.”

Each of the Knights’ three wins against New Rochelle this season was low-scoring, and physical as always. The Huguenots made a couple of runs and had it at 28-28 in the third quarter. But Mount Vernon’s Judah Alexander scored all of his eight points in the third, including a big three-point play.

Then in the fourth, with the game still on the line, Mount Vernon got big minutes and a big bucket from freshman callup Noah Morgan and down the stretch got an important blocked shot, a crucial defensive rebound, and then a lay-in by Brandon Martin to close it out.

“It just feels good that we knocked them out this year,” Martin said. “But we’ve still got two more games to go to get the gold, so right now it means nothing.”

Derek Dorn led New Rochelle with 12 points, and Justin Alleyne had 10 points and seven rebounds. Martin and Alexander combined for 12 rebounds and five blocks for the Knights.

“Disappointing, obviously,” Huguenots coach Rasaun Young said about not successfully defending the title. “That’s the game, you know?

“My seniors, their last game, they fought all the way to end. That’s all I can ask for. A couple shots here, couple shots there, turnover here, turnover there. … We just came up a little short.”

Twitter: @LoHudCarp


More USA TODAY High School Sports