ALBANY — With one second left in Friday afternoon’s Class A Federation semifinal, McKinley coach Zaire Dorsey called a timeout.
It was not to set up a play.
It was to speak to his team on a basketball court one last time, as the Macks were about to conclude a very memorable season with a 69-54 loss to New York City’s John Adams in the state Federation Tournament of Champions.
“I just told them to keep their heads up,” said Dorsey. “They’re champions. They won five championships this year: Yale Cup, Section VI A-1, A overall, Far West Regional and New York State Public High School champs. I told them to keep their heads up.”
After a weekend for all-time concluded Sunday with the school’s first state championship as winners of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association tournament, the Macks couldn’t put forth a similar effort against Brooklyn’s John Adams, the Class A champions of New York City’s Public Schools Athletic League.
The Macks had a 13-game win streak end as they finished 22-4.
McKinley was able to control tempo and shot very well from the field in its three state tournament victories, but on Friday its shots weren’t falling against a bigger opponent who set its own pace before a small gathering of about 750 at the Times Union Center.
“They were a tough team,” said McKinley senior Reyjzon Jordan. “We didn’t play our game and they slowed us down.”
John Adams (25-5) became the first PSAL Class A team to reach the Federation final since Benjamin Banneker in 2001. John Adams will take on state independent representative Albany Academy (15-4) in tonight’s 5 p.m. final. Albany Academy hit a buzzer-beater to gain a 43-40 victory over Nazareth of Brooklyn, which beat Canisius for the state Catholic title.
“I think today just wasn’t our day,” said Dorsey. “We were slow, we weren’t running, we just weren’t moving today offensively.”
Senior Marcus Morris had 18 points (on 7-of-17 shooting, including 3 of 8 from three-point range) to lead McKinley. The 6-foot-3 Morris was hampered by foul trouble which included a questionable technical foul with 5:35 left in the third quarter.
Jordan had 15 points for the Macks, including four three-pointers, many of which were launched in the fourth quarter and kept the Macks hovering about 10 points behind Adams. Jordan had five steals and played good defense early on John Adams’ big senior guard Markell French. The 6-4 French often handled the Macks’ pressure, while his Spartans teammates consistently put together lengthy possessions. That helped take McKinley out of its game, especially when many possessions ended with hit jumpers.
French had 22 points on 6-of-12 shooting while 6-2 junior Paul Johnson had 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including three jumpers late in the second quarter to help John Adams to a 29-21 halftime lead.
While the Macks have made their mark in the third quarter of their three state tournament victories (over Aquinas, Bishop Ludden and Burke Catholic), Adams won the third, 18-13, and fended off what would be McKinley’s best attempt at getting back in the game.
Adams had a 32-24 lead early in the third when Morris drew a foul and was headed to the line. However, after the call, Morris no-look tossed the ball toward an Adams player and was whistled for a technical. That was his third foul and he picked up a fourth soon after. On his trip to the line, he missed both shots, while Johnson hit two for Adams to push the lead to 10. Adams made it 12 on a Hall jumper on the possession after the technical, and a French pull-up following a McKinley turnover made it a 14-point game (38-24).
Adams led, 47-34, entering the fourth quarter and despite Jordan’s threes, the Spartans scored at the line (French was 9 of 9 at the line, Johnson was 6 of 8 as the Spartans were 26 of 33).
“We’re sad – it’s part of the game, to lose, but we can’t let this stop us from working hard in life,” said Morris. “I’m just going to miss playing with these guys – it’s my favorite thing to do. We laugh, we play, we argue and we have fun.These guys are our brothers.”