Mount Vernon boys basketball coach Bob Cimmino doesn’t ask for much when the Knights play at rival New Rochelle.
For Cimmino, it’s more about enduring than thriving.
“You always check the box, ‘Just let me get out of here alive, and I’ll be happy,'” Cimmino said.
That’s exactly what Mount Vernon did on Tuesday, overcoming poor shooting and playing from behind a majority of the fourth quarter to come away with a 54-50 win against the Huguenots.
It was the first time the two teams had played since Khalil Edney hit a 60-foot buzzer beater to lift the Huguenots over the Knights in last season’s Class AA sectional final.
New Rochelle (4-8) held a 43-36 lead heading into the fourth quarter despite losing starting guard Antoine Lewis, who was taken off on a stretcher after suffering a left knee injury fewer than six minutes into the game.
Mount Vernon (10-1) whittled away at the Huguenots’ lead thanks to a high-intensity press and key shots in the fourth quarter.
“We wanted to try and not take any defensive possessions off,” Cimmino said of what he told his team heading into the fourth. “We didn’t want to allow our man to catch the ball for free. … We did a good job of constant pressure on them.”
Akeem Krubally went 1 of 2 from the line with 1:25 left to give the Knights a 48-47 lead, their first since late in the second quarter.
Tyger Hackett padded the lead when he hit a 3 with 27.6 seconds left to give Mount Vernon a 51-47 advantage.
“We went into the fourth with a different mindset,” said Mount Vernon senior Brandon Martin, who finished with 22 points and eight rebounds and sank the final three free throws of the game. “We got after it.”
For the Knights, regardless of how it came about, getting a win was what mattered.
“Rivalry games the records are out the window,” said Mount Vernon senior Devonte Banner, who finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and three assists. “People probably thought we were going to come out and win by more but it’s a rivalry game. It’s going to be a high-intensity game. … I’m just glad we came out with the win.”