GLENS FALLS — For the second straight week, McKinley put forth a wonderful display of basketball. Furious defense. High-flying fast-break finishes. Excellent three-point shooting. Rabid rebounding. Overwhelming runs that put teams away.
If the Macks do it again today, they’ll be a state champion.
McKinley used a 25-13 third quarter to help it run away from Syracuse’s Bishop Ludden, 75-61, in Saturday morning’s New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class A semifinals before an estimated 3,500 at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
“We had 16 minutes, or we were going to go pack our bags, get on the bus and go five and half hours west,” McKinley coach Zaire Dorsey said of his halftime talk with the Macks, who were up, 32-30, at the break. “So I asked them to step it up. We thought we played a horrible first half, and we were still up two. In the Aquinas game, we were only up five or six at half, a similar-type game. In the third quarter, we just came out and played basketball.”
Dorsey referenced last week’s 79-52 Far West Regional victory over Aquinas in which McKinley claimed the game with a 21-12 third quarter. McKinley, the champion of the Buffalo Public Schools’ Yale Cup I, will face a private school for the third straight game as it vies for the state public school title (unlike Section VI, most other sections in the state allow private schools as members).
McKinley (21-3) will play Burke Catholic (18-4) of downstate’s Orange County in today’s 1:30 p.m. final (TWC SportsChannel). It is McKinley’s second appearance in a final and its first since the debut of the state championships at Glens Falls in 1981, when a Ray Hall-led Macks team lost to Long Island’s Malverne in the Class B final.
McKinley is the first Yale Cup team to make the state final in one of the two largest classes since 1984 (when Bennett won Class B). The state tournament had four classes (A, B, C and D) from its inception in 1978 to 2003; it then expanded to five (AA, A, B, C and D).
“It’s amazing,” said Dorsey. “I’m happy for our kids, I’m happy for their parents, I’m happy for the school. We had a lot of teachers take the drive. We’re just happy. We figured that we could be here this year, it was a goal of ours. We’ll be ready to play in the final.”
Lovell Smith led the Macks with 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting while fellow senior Marcus Morris had 21 while hitting 5-of-6 three-pointers. Senior DaeQuan Warren added 11 rebounds, senior Samuel Smith had 10 points, four assists and three steals and senior Reyjzon Jordan had nine points and four assists in a business-like victory that was followed by a business-like reaction.
“This is where we are supposed to be,” said Lovell Smith. “That’s why we’re not celebrating.”
McKinley shot 31 of 53 from the field (58.4 percent) while limiting Ludden to 19 of 52 (36.5 percent). The Macks were called for 20 fouls – with Morris and Warren in foul trouble throughout the game – while Ludden was called for nine. McKinley outrebounded Ludden, 38-26.
Section IX champion Burke Catholic, located in Goshen of Orange County, defeated Section XI (Suffolk County, L.I.) champion Amityville, 68-50, in Saturday’s first semifinal. Burke Catholic, like Bishop Ludden, was moved up to Class A last year after recent success in Class B. Burke won the state B title in 2011 and was in the final four last year.
Michael Coffey, a 6-foot-1 junior, led Burke with 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting, including two three-pointers, as the Eagles jumped to leads of 16-7 (first quarter) and 34-18 (halftime). Jack Dwyer, a 5-11 junior, had 18 points and six assists while 6-6 senior Stan Buczek had eight points, 10 rebounds and four blocks and 6-3 senior Pat Joyner had 12 points.
Today’s winner also earns a bid to next week’s state Federation Tournament of Champions, which brings together the winners of the state’s Catholic, public and independent associations along with the winner of New York City’s Public Schools Athletic League. The PHSAA winner plays the PSAL winner at 1:30 p.m. Friday at Albany’s Times Union Center.