Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Maginn's Four Seniors Look To Win Out

Bishop Maginn's Terron Victoria goes for a basket against CBA's Malcolm Austin (15) in a game at the Washington Ave. Armory in December. (Photo - Tom Killups - The Record)
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Here's a story I wrote about the four seniors on the Bishop Maginn basketball team gunning for section II's first Federation title since Watervliet won the class C crown in 1991. That is the only Federation title ever won by a section II team.

Look for more on Maginn in days ahead, especially on their opponent, the Railsplitters of Abraham Lincoln High.

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William Montgomery

The Record

ALBANY –

March madness doesn’t even begin to describe the frenzied Bishop Maginn basketball program right now.

The team won a state championship and earned a No. 24 national ranking from USA Today. Head coach Rich Hurley just celebrated the birth of a son on Tuesday. Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt has been watching practice, contemplating turning Griffins into Yellow Jackets.

Amidst all that, the Bishop Maginn seniors are preparing for a run in the Federation tournament.

“It’s been hard to go places,” grinned senior forward Antonio Davis. “Everybody always has something to say, congratulating us and telling us how good it is for Albany.”

Maginn (26-1) captured the New York State Public High School class AA championship by defeating Niagara Fall on March 16. Saturday, the Griffins face Public School Athletic League champion Abraham Lincoln High School of Brooklyn (28-4) in the Federation tournament semifinals at the Glens Falls Civic Center. Tip-off is set for 3:45 pm.

“Our accomplishment is to win the whole championship,” Davis said. “We want to keep playing until we can’t play anymore.”

Hurley was impressed how everyone in the program has dealt with the distractions since the team won the state title.

“I missed my first practice in four years, but I had a good reason for it,” Hurley laughed. He’s been bouncing back and forth between the hospital and the school.

“In times like this, you realize who your friends are and who your family is,” said Hurley. “I’ve been blessed to have a great group.”

Assistant and JV coaches helped run practice Tuesday, but the players’ focus on winning a Federation title has held the team together.

One of the senior leaders is Khaliq Gross, who transferred from La Salle for his senior season. Gross poured in 11 points off the bench in a victory over Mount Vernon in the state semifinals, five of those coming in a come-from-behind rally in the fourth quarter.

“I’m cherishing every moment,” said Gross. “Right now it doesn’t even feel like we won states. Once we win something, we have to win something else. We feel like we’ve been presented with an opportunity and we’re going to try to take it.”

Winning the Federation title will be even more challenging than the Griffins’ run through section II and state-wide competition. Lincoln has won six of the last seven PSAL titles and the Railsplitters are defending class AA Federation champions. Junior guard Lance Stephenson averages 23.3 points per game and already has his pick of major division I colleges.

“I watched Lincoln versus Boys and Girls in the (PSAL) championship game about six times already,” Terron Victoria said. “We’re getting ready to go.”

A four-year varsity player at Maginn, Victoria averaged 12.5 points per game. He’s also familiar with Stephenson, playing against him twice in AAU tournaments downstate.

“It seems that (Lincoln’s) offense, most of the time, goes through (Stephenson),” said Victoria. “So if we frustrate him, that is a big breakdown for the team.”

Shimeek Johnson will likely match up against Stephenson and the Griffins’ senior will be sorely missed next year. His 15.3 points per game, 6-7 frame and defensive intensity will be hard to replace.

While Hurley has enjoyed the ride with his seniors, he knows the graduation ceremony in June won’t be easy.

“You form special bonds with the kids and that’s going to be tough,” Hurley said. “What’s nice for me is that these kids will never forget this run and they’ll always have this.”

Sophomore Taran Buie figures to have a big game against Lincoln and two more stellar seasons at Maginn. Juniors Bunduka Kargbo and James Torres will be back next winter.

“I hope the team does the same thing and they can keep on doing it and make Bishop Maginn a perennial powerhouse like Mount Vernon or Lincoln,” Davis said.

Gross noted how impressed he was at the team’s progress over the season, but Victoria experienced the improvement over the past four seasons. Davis moved up to varsity his sophomore year.

“It’s real special because every year we went up a step,” said Victoria. “Freshman year we lost in the second round to Schenectady. Sophomore year, we lost to CBA in the semifinal. Junior year we went on to the state finals and now we’re going for a Federation championship. It’s exciting for me, I’m proud of myself and my teammates and especially for coach Hurley that we got to get here.”

“It’s just the topping on the cake,” Davis said of yet another weekend at the Civic Center. “I’m just thankful to be here. I’m around a great group of guys.”

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Liz said...

Good luck to these seniors and the rest of the Maginn team! It has been a pleasure to read about them all season, and we are proud.

March 27, 2008 at 8:11 AM 

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