Riley Sports Center was buzzing at halftime Friday night after Schenectady outhustled, outplayed and outscored Big 10 leader Bishop
Maginn while building a seven point lead.
“I told the guys, ‘Listen, this can go either way. You put yourself in this situation. Now you’ve got to get yourself out of it,’ ” Bishop Maginn coach Rich Hurley said. “In the first half, we didn’t make shots. I challenged the guys.”
Their response was emphatic: a 27-8 third-quarter run, erasing a
35-28 deficit and propelling the state’s No. 5-ranked Class AA team to a 76-58 victory.
Senior guard Khaliq Gross nailed three three-point baskets in the decisive stretch and finished with a season-high 21 points, while senior forward Shimeek Johnson contributed 20 points, eight rebounds and three blocks as the Golden Griffins (11-0, 14-1) forged their 10th consecutive win.
Sophomore guard Taran Buie added 15 points, eight in the key third-quarter surge, and nine rebounds.
“In the first half, we stayed with the game plan,” said Schenectady coach Mark Sausville, who got a combined 27 points from Derrick Millinghaus, Mark Blair and Chris Lewis over the first two quarters. “On offense, we ran the stuff we practiced, and we defended well in our zone. We could have been up by even more if we did a better job of blocking out. They got some second chances against us.”
In the third quarter, it was the long ball that did Schenectady (5-7, 8-8) in. Buie started and finished the Griffins’ scoring with three-point baskets, and Gross connected on his three in a 13-0 spurt that gave Maginn the lead for good.
“In the third quarter, we had to pick it up. If we didn’t, we could have been in for a long night,” said Gross, a LaSalle transfer who made five threes in all, after totaling seven threes in his first 14 games. “Coach told us to stay together, and the shots will come.”
“In the second half, we didn’t rotate like we should,” Sausville said. “We’ve got to do a better job of rotating.”
Bishop Maginn took its first lead of the contest, 39-38, on a layup by James Torres with 4:30 left in the third period. After Millinghaus hit two free throws, Gross hit a three with 3:40 to go, and another 40 seconds after that.
A slam dunk by Johnson, a layup by Buie and another three-pointer by Gross made it 52-40.
“I was feeling it earlier today, when I was working on my shot,” said Gross, who did his damage coming off the bench. “I kept my confidence up and stroked it tonight.”
“He [Gross] has had big games for us, but nothing like this one,” said Hurley. “We say on any night, anyone can be our leading scorer, and tonight was his night.”
While Bishop Maginn was turning the game in its direction in the third quarter, Schenectady managed only two field goals, including an early layup by Jamal Davis that gave the Pats their largest advantage at 37-28.
“We picked up our defensive intensity. They had 35 points at the half and only eight in the third quarter,” said Hurley, after his Griffins won their 22nd straight games against Section II opponents. “Our defensive triggered that third quarter.”
Buie’s three made it 55-43 to end the third quarter, and Schenectady got as close as 10 twice after that at 56-36 and 58-48.
“We went into panic mode, and they thrive on that,” Sausville said. “We didn’t take care of the ball. We took some ill-advised shots, and the next thing you know . . .”
Schenectady had lost at Bishop Maginn on Dec. 14, 77-47, and Friday night marked its fourth straight loss to the Griffins.
“I give all the props to Schenectady,” said Gross. “They came out confident and played hard.”
And they gave Bishop Maginn, the 2007 state Class AA runner-up, quite a scare. Lewis scored 11 of his 12 points in the first half, including nine in a 15-8 closing run which put his team up, 35-28.
“Mark does a fantastic job with his kids. They’ve played well lately, and I knew they were going to be ready,” Hurley said. “I thought we showed great resiliancy on the road.”
Millinghaus scored eight of his 14 points in the second quarter, and the promising freshman guard also collected seven rebounds and four assists.
Baskets by Davis, Blair, Lewis and Reece Jackson gave Schenectady an 8-0 lead before Gross’ three with 4:18 left in the opening quarter got the visitors on the board.
Buie 4-5-15, Gross 8-0-21, Victoria 2-2-8, Johnson 8-4-20, Kargbo 1-2-4, Torres 3-2-8. Totals: 26-15-76.
Blair 4-1-9, Davis 3-0-6, Jackson 3-0-8, C. Lewis 4-4-12, Millinghaus 4-6-14, Taylor 3-0-6, Wilson 1-1-3. Totals: 22-12-58.
Bishop Maginn 10 18 27 21 — 76
Schenectady 12 23 8 15 — 58
Three-point goals: Buie 2, Gross 5, Victoria 2, Jackson 2.
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