Mount Vernon to meet city's best at SNY Invitational

Mount Vernon coach Bob Cimmino, whose team will appear in the SNY Invitational at CCNY on Jan. 29-30.

Mount Vernon coach Bob Cimmino, whose team will appear in the SNY Invitational at CCNY on Jan. 29-30.

More than last year’s success or any preseason prognostication, the fact that Mount Vernon will play in this weekend’s SNY Invitational indicates what the Knights expected of themselves.

They will compete in the prestigious four-team event, starting with Cardozo at 8 Friday night at CCNY’s Nat Holman Gym. Mount Vernon will then meet either Christ the King or Brentwood on Saturday at 2 (consolation) or 4 (championship).

The Knights won the SNY Invitational in 2009, beating Jefferson and St. Raymond. They then finished last in 2011, falling to St. Anthony’s (N.J.) and Rice before rebounding to win state and Federation championships later that season.

Both instances shared a common bond: High expectations.

“I always want to make sure I have the team I want going into that event,” said Mount Vernon coach Bob Cimmino, whose team was upset in the 2009 state playoffs when eventual champ Newburgh hit a buzzer beater from beyond half court. “We go into a lot of tournaments and I like to assess our level a year in advance. Most of the time, I think I’m a pretty good judge of that. I thought we’d be pretty competitive this year.”

The Knights, who were considered by some a preseason favorite to win the Class AA state championship, faced a few unexpected hiccups early on. They opened the season just 2-3, but have since rebounded to post nine straight wins. More important, they have shown better continuity of late with juniors Noah Morgan and Marco Morency having led the way.

A few weeks ago, Mount Vernon might not have been ready for what will be a clear step up in competition. Cardozo, the Queens-based PSAL power, is 18-1 and was ranked No. 1 in the state before being upset by the High School of Construction last week. Senior guard Ray Salnave has already committed to Monmouth and seniors Tareq Coburn (Fordham, FDU, Fairfield, Saint Peter’s, St. Francis, Robert Morris) and Aaron Walker (Manhattan, Fordham, FDU) have multiple Division I offers.

“I really think we are ready,” Cimmino said. “Certain times you don’t have to use any psychology to get the team ready and this is almost like an AAU showdown. The players all know each other so well. They know Cardozo has a very good record and has played well. Our guys seem to feel better about themselves, so I think it’s as good a time to play as any.”

Christ the King, the defending CHSAA champ, and Brentwood, the Section 11 champ, will open the tournament at 6 Friday night. Brentwood lost in last year’s Class AA state final to Shenendehowa, which beat Mount Vernon the previous day in the semifinals.

All four of this weekend’s games will be broadcast live on SNY.


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