GLENS FALLS -- Mount Vernon doesn’t need a lot of time to lift its own spirit while crushing that of its opponent.
That was on display Saturday, as the Knights turned a 33-30 lead late in the third quarter into a convincing win. Mount Vernon, the top-ranked Class AA team in the state, outscored CBA of Albany 30-12 in the fourth quarter to win its semifinal, 68-42, in the State Boys Basketball Tournament at the Civic Center.
Mount Vernon, already the state record-holder for most titles with nine, goes for a 10th at 3:15 p.m. Sunday against Aquinas Institute.
CBA tried for as long as it could to keep the more athletic Knights from running, but as the Brothers found out, it’s like trying to keep a rhino from charging. In the final quarter, Mount Vernon didn’t need to score a single jump shot. All of its points came on transition baskets, drives, putbacks or foul shots.
“If you try to trade baskets with them, you’re in trouble,” CBA coach Dave Doemel said.
It was starting to look like Mount Vernon would run away in the third quarter, as Jarrel Marshall’s sixth consecutive point put the Knights up 33-22, but CBA answered with a 3-pointer by Chaz Lott, alley-oop layup by Earl Ricketts, foul shot by Christian Leppanen and putback by Ricketts.
But the 33-30 Mount Vernon lead felt larger, and in the fourth quarter, the Knights made sure it got that way. Randy Stephens and Marshall combined for 17 points in the final period.
“(Stephens) is just playing on another level the last month,” Mount Vernon coach Bob Cimmino said. “He’s playing like I envisioned him playing.”
Mount Vernon’s quick hands and intermittent pressure defense resulted in 23 CBA turnovers.
“We got behind, and when we took chances, (Mount Vernon) knew what to do,” Doemel said. “Then it was a bit of a press. At the end of the game, it was a crapshoot to take those chances. The better team won.”
CBA led 10-7 after the first quarter and trailed 23-17 at halftime. Still, there were signs that Doemel didn’t care for, including rebounding.
“We needed to help Chaz (Lott) sometimes ... and nobody dropped down to box out their big guys,” Doemel said. “I don’t care if they’re 6-2, if we’re not boxing out, it won’t matter.”
Stephens led Mount Vernon with 19 points and seven rebounds. Marshall added 18 points and eight rebounds. Qwadere Lovell added 11 points.
For CBA, Joe Krong led the way with 12 points. Four other players had at least six points, with Greg Stire pulling down a game-high 12 rebounds and Christian Leppanen dishing out five assists.
Sunday will be a special day for Cimmino, as he’ll be inducted into the New York State Basketball Hall of Fame in the morning and have the championship game in the afternoon.
“It’s an awesome thing to have that (induction) bestowed upon you,” Cimmino said, “but it doesn’t compare if you can win a state championship.”