Sectional basketball brackets
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Shimeek Johnson hit a foul-line jumper late in the opening half of Monday night’s Section II Class AA championship game, and soon after, the senior forward turned a wicked slam dunk into a three-point play.
That was just a preview of things to come for Johnson, the rest of his Bishop Maginn teammates and for Christian Brothers Academy, as well.
“We were only up by five at the half, and I told them, ‘We need to make a run. We can’t let them hang around,’ ” Bishop Maginn coach Rich Hurley said after his team surged to a 71-51 triumph at the Times Union Center. “We weren’t going to let what happened the last time we played happen again. We got the pace going our way, and Shimeek had a big second half.
Johnson scored 11 of his 20 points in the decisive third quarter as the state’s No. 2-ranked team turned a 25-20 lead into a 42-29 bulge, and went on to win its second straight title at CBA’s expense while completing a three-game season sweep.
Johnson was also the star in Bishop Maginn’s 71-69 win at CBA on Feb. 1, forcing overtime on a buzzer-beating three before scoring his team’s first six points of the extra session. CBA erased a 16-point, fourth-quarter deficit in that matchup, but there was no coming back Monday night.
“He’s the best player in the area,” Bishop Maginn senior guard Terron Victoria said of Johnson, whose slam dunk and three-point hoop quickly pushed Maginn’s third-quarter lead to 30-22. “He steps up in big games.”
“I hit a couple of shots,” Johnson, bound for Central Connecticut State, said of his big third quarter. “I stayed focused and played well, and got our team going.”
“You know Shimeek has the ability to fill it up from long range,” said CBA coach Dave Doemel. “We let him get some clean looks, and credit him, he made them, but we should have gotten out on him a little better.”
Before Bishop Maginn’s two titles, CBA (21-3) had captured three straight, including a wild
71-69 double-overtime win against Johnson’s Albany team in 2006. Johnson transferred to Bishop Maginn for his junior year.
“I remember that game,” said the 6-foot-7 Johnson, who was named the Class AA most valuable player after hitting eight of 15 shots from the field, and pulling down nine rebounds. “I had an and-one to get it to overtime, but they got us that night. I lost to CBA plenty of times, but the last four games, we got them.”
Bishop Maginn also defeated CBA on Dec. 21, 54-45.
“This is a great feeling, to come out and win two [titles] in a row, and beat CBA three times in the same season,” said Victoria.
The three wins over CBA are part of a 19-game winning streak Bishop Maginn (23-1) will take into Saturday’s 4:45 regional final against Henninger (Section III,
21-2) at Hudson Valley Community College.
While Johnson was a central figure in helping the Golden Griffins reach another regional, Class AA tourney all-star Taran Buie collected 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists, Victoria netted 11 points and Khaliq Gross added 10.
“The first one is always the best, but this one was harder. We took everyone’s best shot,” said Hurley. “We set a goal at the start of the year to do this, but we came in with a target on our back. The guys worked hard for this, and showed resilience. They would not be denied.”
Johnson scored on a drive, a jumper and a putback in an 8-1 run to close the third frame, and Bishop Maginn started the fourth with eight unanswered points, including a three by Victoria, to go up by 21. The Griffins led by as many as 22 after that on three occasions.
“The disappointing thing was not being able to compete at the end,” said Doemel.
While Hurley was pleased with his Griffins’ offensive production, he also relished their defense against the state’s No. 10-ranked team. DeAndre Kennedy-Ebron paced the Brothers with 12 points and 10 rebounds, fellow tourney all-star Malcolm Austin managed to get 10 points and 10 boards, despite foul trouble, and John Mantas also scored 10 points, but eight came after the contest was decided.
“We played very good defense tonight,” Hurley said. “That’s been our staple. On the first day of practice, we talked about ball pressure.”
“We emphasized defense the whole week,” Victoria said. “We came out sluggish against Colonie [in a 60-50 semifinal win] and picked it up in the second half, and carried it into this game.”
CBA led by as many as five in the first quarter, and held a 20-18 advantage with 1:50 left in the second after Galai Cancer’s three-pointer. The Brothers never strung together consecutive baskets after that, and had only a pair of four-point runs.
“They played hard, and they played intense. They played how they were allowed to play, and we didn’t respond to that,” said
Doemel. “It was physical out there.”
CBA made its sixth straight championship-game appearance. Shenendehowa was the last Section II large-school team to put together such a run, reaching seven in a row from 1985-91.
Buie 5-6-17, Gross 3-4-10, Davis 0-1-1, Victoria 2-6-11, S. Johnson 8-2-20, Kargbo
1-2-4, Torres 3-2-8. Totals: 22-23-71.
Cancer 2-0-5, Austin 3-3-10, Ritter 2-2-6, Kennedy-Ebron 4-4-12, Mantas 3-3-10, Stire 4-0-8. Totals: 18-12-51.
Bishop Maginn 9 16 17 29 — 71
CBA 10 10 9 22 — 51
Three-point goals: Buie, Victoria,
S. Johnson 2, Cancer, Austin, Mantas.