Aquinas stopped in Federation final

Aquinas stopped in Federation final


Aquinas stopped in Federation final


Jalen Pickett is hit in the lane.

Jalen Pickett is hit in the lane.

ALBANY — One state basketball title this season will have to be enough for Aquinas.

The Class AA New York State Public High School Athletic Association champions were stopped from taking a second title Saturday by an Orange Wave from Brooklyn, also known as Thomas Jefferson High, 72-65, during the finals of the Federation Tournament of Champions.

Aquinas (25-3) fell one win short of becoming the first boys team from Section V to win a NYSPHSAA state title and an all-encompassing Federation championship in the same season since the 1991-92 Mynderse Academy team in Class C.

This was a game where the opponent dictated pace.

“They don’t like to run,” Jefferson coach Lawrence Pollard said. “We’re a running team, so we came out with an intensity, knowing they wouldn’t run with us.”

It’s one thing for a team to want to do that, but the Orange Wave from New York City had the players to pick up the pace, including senior Shamorie Ponds, who is headed to Saint John’s University, coached by former NBA star Chris Mullin.

“We played a really athletic team,” Aquinas junior point guard Jalen Pickett said. “We had a couple of turnovers early in the game, and they scored in transition.

“We’re really good defending in half-court.”

David Vito puts up a shot against a Thomas Jefferson defender.

David Vito puts up a shot against a Thomas Jefferson defender.

Ponds finished with 16 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists inside Albany’s Times Union Center, despite picking up his fourth foul about two minutes into the third quarter. Jefferson’s play began to come apart for a period, and Aquinas charged from 16 points down to striking distance, 61-57, after Earnest Edwards made two free throws with 4:16 remaining.

But Jefferson never allowed Aquinas to move any closer, thanks largely to Rasheem Dunn, a Saint Francis Brooklyn-recruit, and Curtis Smith.

“They kept us balanced, they gave us the cushion we needed when (Ponds) returned,” Pollard said.

Dunn finished with 21 points, including 11 free throws in 12 attempts. Smith gave Jefferson 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field.

“I don’t know where his jumper came from,” Edwards said about Smith. “He was like 0 for 5 last night (during Jefferson’s Federation semifinal.”

A fastbreak that Edwards finished with a layup cut Jefferson’s lead to four points again with about a minute remaining, 67-63. Players and coaches on the Jefferson bench yelled “make free throws” and members of the Orange Wave did that to hand Aquinas its worst defeat of the season, in terms of margin of defeat.

“Talented,” Edwards said. “Physical and talented. They work hard on both ends of the floor, that’s what I liked about them.

“They deserve to win this championship.”

Pickett led Aquinas with 21 points and had 15 rebounds. He was joined on the all-tournament team by Dunn, Smith and Ponds, the Most Valuable Player.

Aquinas players look on from the bench.

Aquinas players look on from the bench.

Thomas Jefferson 72, Aquinas 65

Jefferson      18   19   18  17 – 72

Aquinas          12  12  23   18 – 65

THOMAS JEFFERSON: Raheem Dunn 21, Shamorie Ponds 16, Malachi Faison 6, Curtis Smith 15, Eric Massingale 4, Marques Watson 4, Deante Bridgett 0, Kerome Grant 2, Jordan Morgan 4.

AQUINAS: Earnest Edwards 18, Jason Hawkes 10, David Vito 5, Jamir Jones 4, Jalen Pickett 21, Josh Constantine 0, Anthony Fleglar 0, Billy Gialln 7, Gryacen Carter 0, Sincere Alsont 0.

3-pointers: Smith 2, Morgan; Edwards 2, Hawkes, Vito, Pickett, Gillan 2.

Aquinas one win from Federation title

David Vito collides with a Thomas Jefferson defender in the paint.

David Vito collides with a Thomas Jefferson defender in the paint.

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