Bishop Maginn showed plenty of fight in Saturday’s Class AA semifinal game of the New York State Federation Tournament of Champions, while Abraham Lincoln displayed its inside might.
With superstar guard Lance Stephenson effectively neutralized, the Railsplitters got a combined 36 points and 20 rebounds from big boys Justin Greene and James Padgett, and ended the Golden Griffins’ fantastic journey, 67-57, at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
It was on the same court two weeks ago that Bishop Maginn
(26-2) won its first New York State Public High School Athletic Association championship with a 68-37 rout of Niagara Falls, but like Schenectady twice before, as well as Shenendehowa, the Griffins came up short in the large-school Federation field.
“We heard we couldn’t play with New York City teams. We heard it was going to be a 30-point game,” Bishop Maginn coach Rich Hurley said after his team’s state-best
22-game winning streak was halted. “I knew we were going to play well today. We had two good weeks of practice, and the last three days were phenomenal. We just couldn’t catch them.”
A quick 7-0 spurt which Padgett started with a putback and Greene ended with a layup gave Lincoln a 26-19 second-quarter advantage. Bishop Maginn played catchup the rest of the way, yet never got over the hump, as the Railsplitters
(29-4) of Brooklyn earned the right to defend their championship today against Holy Cross (Catholic High School Athletic Association, 22-8).
Sophomore guard Taran Buie led Bishop Maginn with 18 points, Khaliq Gross and Bunduka Kargbo both netted 11, and Shimeek Johnson totaled 10 points and a team-leading eight rebounds.
“This team will never play together again. That’s the most upsetting thing to me,” said Hurley. “This team was special. I’m going to miss going to practice with these guys. These guys took me on a wonderful ride.”
“We’re still state champions at the end of the day,” said Buie, whose layup with 2:44 to go pulled the Griffins within 59-56. “We’re happy with what we did.”
What the Griffins couldn’t do Saturday, though, was contain Lincoln’s front court tandem of Greene, a 6-foot-7 senior, and Padgett, a 6-8 junior. Greene scored 14 of his 22 points in the second half and pulled down 10 rebounds. Padgett notched 10 of his 14 points in the first half to help stake Lincoln to a 34-29 lead, and also took down 10 rebounds.
“We haven’t played against two guys like that all year. They’re Division I players. We scrapped and clawed with them, but they’re big and they made some big baskets. What can you say?” Hurley said. “We’ve faced some big guys before, but never one on the left and one on the right.”
“Me and James come out ready to play every night,”said Greene, who blocked four shots and made 11 of 14 shots from the field. “All we think about is double-doubles. Double-doubles.”
Greene had a layup, a tip-in and a steal just before that in an 8-1 spurt to close the contest, after Buie’s layup had made it a three-point game.
“They stepped up big time,” Stephenson said of Greene and Padgett. “They hit big shots, got key rebounds and kept us in the game.”
Lincoln started the final quarter similar to how it finished, with Stephenson pounding down a slam dunk, Greene dropping in a layup and Padgett jamming one through for its first double-digit lead,
“When your star player is struggling, the role players have to step up,” said Padgett, who was 6-for-8 from the field and combined with Greene for nine offensive rebounds. “We had to work together to make sure we got the win.”
Stephenson managed 15 points, which were 10 below his average and 12 less than the 6-6 junior produced in last week’s 88-57 win over Boys & Girls in the Public Schools Athletic League final. Stephenson is regarded my many as the nation’s premier junior guard, and although he put down four slam dunks Saturday, including a monster two-hander in the closing seconds, he never took over the game as he had so many times since his freshman year.
Stephenson was named the Federation MVP last year after a
20-point, 15-rebound effort in a
68-62 title-game win over Rice. Lincoln won its other Federation crowns in 1995 and 2003.
“Bunduka might have just gotten himself a Division I scholarship,” said Hurley, who saw his junior guard excel defensively against Stephenson, despite giving up five inches. “When we found out we were playing Lincoln, he said, ‘I want him.’ He’s a competitor. Lance made some nice plays today, but he wasn’t the difference.”
Bishop Maginn did not shoot as well as it had in previous games at the Civic Center, going 20-for-51 from the field (39.2 percent) and 13-for-25 from the line (52 percent). The Griffins made just four of 17 shots from three-point distance.
“I thought we disrupted them, and I though we made them sweat, but we missed some shots and some free throws, and we missed some rebounds,” said Hurley. “But there’s no negative here. We went 50-6 the last two years. I’m very proud of them. I’m very happy for them.”
Buie hit two free throws, Gross scored down low and Buie scored again to cap Maginn’s best run and make it 59-56. During Lincoln’s 8-1 finish, the Griffins managed only a free throw by Kargbo while missing four shots and losing the ball another time on Greene’s steal.
Greene’s impressive second half included a layup and two putbacks in a 10-4, third-quarter run which gave the Railsplitters a 48-40 lead.
Kargbo was 5-for-6 shooting and had four assists, one more than Gross. Gross came off the bench and scored eight first-half points, including a buzzer-beating three to end it.
Lincoln will be making its third straight title-game appearance today at 2 and its eighth since 1986. Holy Cross features this year’s Mr. New York Basketball and Virginia-bound Sylven Landesberg.
Buie 6-5-18, Gross 3-4-11, Davis 1-1-3, Victoria 1-2-4, S. Johnson 4-0-10, Kargbo 5-1-11. Totals: 20-13-57.
Stephenson 6-3-15, Brown 0-2-2, Staten 1-2-4, Flowers 2-0-4, Ellis 1-0-2, Council 0-4-4, Greene 11-0-22, Padgett 6-2-14. Totals:27-13-67.
Bishop Maginn 13 16 17 11 — 57
Lincoln 15 19 16 17 — 67
Three-point goals: Buie, Gross, S. Johnson 2.