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Mekeel star Mann has shooter's mentality

Mekeel star Mann has shooter's mentality

Mike Mann didn’t expect to see any more action after he took a seat on the Mekeel Christian Academy

Mike Mann didn’t expect to see any more action after he took a seat on the Mekeel Christian Academy bench in the second half of Tuesday night’s Western Athletic Conference basketball game at Middleburgh.

“I thought I was done,” said the Lions’ junior guard. “They went on a run. A couple of us went back in, and we put it out of reach.”

Mekeel’s late counterpunch in the 91-70 victory included the last of Mann’s school-record 10 three-point baskets, which was one shy of the Section II mark. The last Section II boy to nail 10 threes was RJ Pingitore of Broadalbin-Perth in December 2010 in a win against Scotia-Glenville.

“Middleburgh shot the ball extremely well last night,” Mekeel coach Chad Bowman said after Wednesday’s practice. “We needed every shot.”

Mann led five double-figure scorers with a career-high 30 points. That total came on 10-for-19 shooting from the field, and his only attempt inside the circle was a floater that missed the mark.

“The first quarter has been my worst quarter, and I started out slow again,” said the 17-year-old Mechanicville resident. “I missed my first two shots, and then I started feeling good.”

“He’ll miss three in a row and it’s no big deal because you know he can turn around and hit five in a row,” said Bowman. “The kid is a shooter, and one of the key ingredients of a shooter is confidence. He feels like when he shoots it, it’s going to go in.”

Though Mann made the deep shots, he gave credit to his teammates for the help they gave in the record performance that was part of Mekeel’s ninth straight victory.

“Kevin [Braye] and Jeff [Gomez] are incredible at driving and dishing. I couldn’t have done it without them. They were getting me the ball,” said Mann. “Having Damonte [White] inside helped, too. Teams have to account for him because he’s so big.”

Mann has had bigger three-point games before, but not at the high school level.

“In a summer league game against Ballston Spa, he had 15 or 16 threes,” said Bowman. “It was amazing.”

Mann tied the school record with eight threes last season in a win against Sharon Springs, and sank eight again in a triumph against Middleburgh. Khristian Collins made eight against Fair Haven, Vt., during the 2004-05 season, and Jordan Kulbako sank eight against Schoharie during the 2000-01 campaign.

“A couple of practices ago, we had a competition and he beat me by one,” Mann said of Collins, an assistant with the Mekeel varsity, with a laugh. “He still thinks he’s better.”

Mann leads all WAC players with 41 threes, and is No. 4 among all Section II players. His season high before Tuesday was six threes, and he’s delivered at least three in every contest.

“He’s a fun kid to have, and he helps us in ways beyond the scoring,” said Bowman. “We’ve got other guys who can shoot. Teams have to pay attention to Mike, and that opens things up.”

Andrew Sherwin of Argyle set the Section II record with 11 three-point baskets against Fort Ann during the 2003-04 season. The group of players who have nailed 10 threes includes Joe Girard Jr., who did it twice while competing for St. Mary’s of Glens Falls.

“His shot is a little unorthodox, but it’s effective. Shooting rules don’t apply with him, but you’d be foolish to try to change it,” Bowman said Mann, who was named a WAC first-team all-star as a sophomore. “He’s going to have some more big nights.”

“It really depends on what team we’re playing,” said Mann. “How close the game is. What defense they’re playing.”

Mann leads the state’s No. 15-ranked Class B team with a 17-point average.

“My goal is to be more consistent and not have the slow starts,” said Mann. “Our team goal is to do something special for the program. Since we won the section in 2007 we’ve had early fallouts. It would be pretty cool if we won the Class B title, Scotia won the Class A title and Schenectady won the Class AA title because in a lot of ways we’re connected.”

Scott Voelker scored 15 points against Middleburgh, White had 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Braye and Gomez combined for 20 assists as Mekeel went to 6-0 in the WAC Southern Division that it is trying to win for the 12th consecutive season.

Warriors win

The Averill Park girls went on a 19-8 fourth-quarter run to pull away from a one-poiint lead, and ended their three-game slide with a 58-46 Suburban Council win at Guilderland Thursday night.

Jenna Minor led Averill Park (7-4 league) with 14 points, and Lauren Van Roy had five of her nine in the final quarter. Zibby Eckhardt led Guilderland (5-6 league) with 12 points.

AVERILL PARK

Anthony 3-0-9, Minor 5-1-14, Jankovic 0-1-1, Van Roy 4-1-9, O’Shea 1-3-5, Laranjo 3-2-9, C. Wood 2-3-7, M. Wood 1-0-2, Apfel 1-0-2. Totals: 20-11-58.

GUILDERLAND

Bauman 2-2-6, Eckhardt 5-0-12, Corbett 3-0-6, Golderman 4-3-11, Edwards 1-0-2, Fyvie 3-3-9. Totals: 18-8-46.

Averill Park 10 17 12 19 — 58

Guilderland 12 13 13  8 — 46

Three-point goals: Anthony 3, Minor 3, Laranjo, Eckhardt 2.

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